Third time's the charm for senior police constable Pete Thomas, whose trio of stints as a Hikurangi community cop finally landed him a much-craved permanent position.
Thomas spent six patient years eyeballing opportunities for a fixed role in Hikurangi, ever since first working the area in 2014.
Now he, and newly appointed senior constable Lisa Magnusson, pound a beat well trodden for 28 years by Senior Constable Russell Rawiri and by Senior Constable Gavin Benney for 23 years.
Benney quit the role about seven years ago to run a pub and later became a Whangārei district councillor; whereas Rawiri retired last year, leaving the Hikurangi community fearing it would be left without any local full-time officers.
But the introduction of Thomas and Magnusson solved those concerns.
"We want to carry on Russell and Gavin's work and keep the trust and confidence going that they started with the community. It's huge to what we do out here," Thomas said.
An advantage to that ambition was the two years Thomas had already spent as a temporary addition to the Hikurangi policing team.
"I wasn't too pleased each time I wrapped up here as I wanted to stay – I'd made a lot of contacts through that time and was able to do a lot of good stuff out here," he said.
Both he and Magnusson, whose 24-year career of late involved mostly city policing, have brought a diverse bounty of experience to the roles.
Thirteen of Thomas' 19 years as an officer have been working with youth offending and 14 years were clocked up in the search and rescue team – at present as the main drone operator.
Magnusson had previously worked as a United Nations peacekeeper in East Timor and in the maritime policing unit in Auckland.
She applied for the role as a way to bring her expertise to community policing but to also grow her rural policing skill set.
"I've spent my whole life heading north but now it's time to stop in the Whangārei district," she said. "The community has been awesome and incredibly welcoming."
An early challenge they faced was to familiarise themselves with their police patch – one of Northland's largest. It starts at Matapouri Bay, up the coastline to Punaruka, cuts across inland to Towai, and right through to Kauri.
They also had issues around youth activity, land, and neighbourly disputes specific to the area on their radar.
The pair, who met for the first time in their new posts, were warmly received by the Hikurangi community at a casual meet and greet event in April at the local bowling club.
Thomas said it was the first welcome he had experienced throughout his policing career.
"There's a lot of good people out here, it's definitely a well-looked-after community."