Discretion: The freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation.
When Constable Vincent Kahui jumps into his squad car for another day - or night shift – patrolling the streets of Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau, he makes choices that can ultimately have good and bad outcomes.
A good outcome is he gets home safe, no one is killed or maimed on the roads under his watch, and he has done his part to uphold law and order.
That's the daily pressure on police who confront life and death scenarios.
Kahui, 47, an officer for two years, said one of the most fulfilling aspects of his job is not chasing bad guys or high-speed pursuits but helping a whānau find solutions to often deep-seated issues.
That's where he said using police discretion has helped Māori, especially rangatahi, he comes into contact with who are often given second chances.
Policing is not black or white, he said.
Kahui, of Taranaki and Ngāti Hine descent, recalled an incident where a Māori mum ran a red light right in front of him.
He could have written up a long list of infringements but sensed there were underlying issues and perhaps the mum just needed a korero.
"I lit up the siren and pulled the driver over. I could see it was a mum who had kids and a couple of teenagers in the vehicle. She had no warrant and the registration was about to expire," Kahui said.
He knew that fining this woman was unlikely to produce a good outcome for anyone. Plus, he said, that would have just reinforced the lack of trust Māori already have in the police.
"The mum wouldn't look at me but I knew she had tears in her eyes. She said this was going to cost her licence because of demerit points.
"She'd be forced to drive her kids to school regardless. One had to go to kura, one to alternative education and to high school. She would have to run the gauntlet and likely get fined again."
Kahui took the woman aside and spoke to her kanohi ki te kanohi – face to face.
"From speaking with her, I could see she was just under the pump and trying to do the best she could," Kahui said.
Using discretion Kahui worked out a plan for the woman to keep her licence, and get her vehicle a WOF and registered in a timeframe where she could afford to pay it.
When she achieved the compliance, her fines were waived.
Kahui also referred two of the teenagers in the vehicle to the fully subsidised marae-based Police Drivers Licensing programme that is run in conjunction with Te Ara Haepapa (the Māori arm of Auckland Transport) and Whiti Ora O Kaipara Charitable Trust (subsidiary of Ngā Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara). It is funded by MSD.
Inspector Todd Bartlett, Pou Whirinaki, Māori responsiveness manager for the Waitematā District said the driver licensing programme was just one tool officers were using to support whānau as part of the wider Māori strategy.
"Our driver licensing programme is aimed at all Māori who are unlicensed," Bartlett said. "In saying that we will not turn other ethnicities away.
"We are constantly looking at how we achieve better outcomes for Māori."
The driver licensing programme was launched last year and includes six marae - Haranui, Oruawharo, Te Herenga Waka, Hoani Waititi (online due to Covid), Reweti and Te Aroha Pa.
"This kaupapa addresses many of the barriers that traditionally prevent Māori, and others from navigating the graduated driver licensing system," Bartlett said:
"We assist applicants compiling the requisite identification, as many don't have a passport or birth certificate and don't know how to or can't afford to obtain these.
"Application costs to sit a licence are prohibitive for many and these were taken care of as a result of the funding obtained.
"Those that have numeracy and literacy difficulties were supported by specialist tutors."
Since last year, 314 people have graduated from the programme and a further 118 participants are to graduate.
While Covid has disrupted the course, Bartlett is confident once New Zealand moves into normality, the programme will resume.
The driver licensing programme gives Kahui a strong sense of pride.
Having worked at the tail end of the justice system - Courts and Corrections - Kahui has seen first-hand what happens to youth who are dumped on the conveyor belt of crime.
"Give a young person with no job a ticket, they are unlikely to pay the fine. Ultimately after a few of these non-paid tickets, a warrant will be issued," Kahui said.
"They'll end up in jail for a minor driving offence which has escalated beyond unlicensed driving. I want our Māori youth to be given every opportunity available to become productive people.
"Give them a licence and they are in the driver's seat. They can get a job and it opens doors and opportunities."
Kahui said the look on the faces of those who have receive their licences is priceless.
"That's the kind of policing I want to be involved with, where we are helping our rangatahi and not looking at them as hopeless cases," Kahui said.
Kahui is referring around five rangatahi a week and would like to see more officers utilising this pathway and their discretion.