An ongoing police recruiting scheme is attracting people of various ages and backgrounds, but few will have a story like Franscis Roberts.

The Tokerau Beach man told a gathering at the Kaitaia police station last week to farewell him and Joelle Nattrass of Pukenui before they left for the Royal Police College, that he had applied to join the force in 2002, but had injured himself and was unable to continue.

He was then "bribed" to stay in the job he already had. But now, 16 years later, at the age of 42, he was back, and "over the moon" that he was about to begin his training.

Ms Nattrass said she had been hounded by Houhora's resident officer, Constable Simon Wihongi, although her mother had done her best to fend him off —"with a tennis racquet, I think".


She had resisted Constable Wihongi's blandishments until she had completed her studies and spent time working in early childhood education with her mother, but now she was ready to embark upon a new career.

Those who attended Thursday's farewell included two local recruits who were nearing theend of their 16 weeks at the college, and were in Kaitaia on two-week postings, and others who were at earlier stages of the process, including one who had begun just an hour before.

Far North Area Commander Inspector Riki Whiu acknowledged the efforts made by Kaitaia's acting Senior Sergeant Sarah Wihongi, and the colleagues who were supporting her, to portray a career in the police as an attractive option.

Nine local people were now at some point of the process, but it would not stop there, he said.

District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou also welcomed the recruits to "the whanau," reminding them that they would be representing Northland. And their lives would never be the same.

"You will be looked at differently in the community, as leaders," he said.

"Some might treat you differently. In a crisis you will be looked to for answers. You won't have all those answers yet.

"You will end up doing stuff that no one else in the community wants to do, and which some won't understand."


He was delighted to see the recruitment programme succeeding, especially given that a deputy Commissioner had told him that enough would never be found to enable the Kaitaia station to be manned 24/7.

He was looking forward to tell him he was wrong.

And in general terms, creating jobs for nine people in Kaitaia was "actually quite significant".

A total of 148 recruits were in the pipeline in Northland.

"We are getting people who are going to stay. We will have our people policing our community," Superintendent Le Prou said.

"Kaitaia will go 24 hours with people who want to be here."

He also reminded the recruits what he expected of them, saying he valued officers who had empathy, who used their experience and skills, who hunted out those who were doing the wrong thing, who knew what the wrong thing looked like and did something about it.