Senior Sergeant Russell Richards, who officially became the senior police officer in Te Hiku o Te Ika (based in Kaitāia) on Monday, will be a familiar face to many.

He arrived in Kaitāia from the Thames/Whangamatā area, where he had spent four years, in October 2016, joining the CIB, having spent the first 13 years of his career in Auckland.

Originally from Pātea, in Taranaki, he has succeeded Senior Sergeant Geoff Ryan, who was posted to Kaitāia in 2009, and was re-assigned to the police/iwi whānau harm reduction project Whiria te Muka 18 months ago.

Senior Sergeant Ryan will remain in Kaitāia, as will Sergeant Sarah Wihongi, who led the station in an acting capacity until the end of last week.


In the short term Sergeant Wihongi is expected to continue focusing on the Far North police recruitment programme.

Senior Sergeant Richards said the time he had spent in Kaitāia had given him a good head start in his new position.

"It's good to know the lie of the land, and to know names and faces, as opposed to coming here from outside the district." He had enjoyed his time with the CIB, and was looking forward to his new role.

And he had another strong local connection in his wife Kim (nee Byrne), very much an Ahipara local.

Senior Sergeant Richards, supported by colleagues including Northland District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou and Far North Area Commander Inspector Riki Whiu, was formally welcomed on to Roma Marae at Ahipara on Tuesday.