Northland policewoman Constable Elyse Lewis has created history by becoming the first female officer to win the national police patrol championships with her police dog Mist.
As the national champion, Lewis and Mist, who is five years old, take home the Frank Riley Cup.
The duo showed their versatility over the three-day competition that finished today and were also awarded the Commissioner's Challenger Cup for obedience and the Monaghan Trophy for heelwork.
In their first national championship last year the Northland duo finished second. Since then hours of training and plenty of successful catches on the beat in have seen them take the coveted title in just their second attempt.
"This was the pinnacle of my career," Lewis said.
"This has been a goal of mine since becoming operational. To come up against such experienced handlers and win is overwhelming, and a huge personal achievement for me."
Twelve police patrol dogs and handlers from across New Zealand were put through a series of challenging obedience disciplines, heel work, tracking, criminal work and building searches during the gruelling competition.
Inspector Todd Southall, national co-ordinator police dogs was extremely impressed by the calibre of the teams competing and said every year the competition seemed to get better.
"The teams work so hard to get here and compete at a national level - every single one of them should be very proud of their achievements," Southall said.
"I do want to offer a special congratulations to Constable Lewis and Mist, who came first in the Police Patrol category. Constable Lewis' win is not only very well-deserved, it represents a true milestone in the history of the NZ Police Dog Section, and sends a strong message to any women aspiring to become dog handlers that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and train hard."
The prizes were presented by Assistant Commissioner Bruce Bird and other officials at the Police Dog Training Centre in Trentham.
Lewis is only the fifth female dog handler in the history of New Zealand Police and one of two currently working in New Zealand.
She spent nine years as a frontline officer in Whangārei before chasing her dream of becoming a dog handler.
The duo became operational in November 2015, working initially in Dunedin as part of the Southern District before transferring back "home" in Whangārei where Lewis became the region's first female dog handler.