Three years after a damning report, too many long-serving officers still believe the old ways don't need to change. The minister's message says they are wrong.
In her damning report on police sexual misconduct, Dame Margaret Bazley doubted that the force could sustain the momentum necessary for culture change. It was essential, she said, that several things happened. Among the most important were positive leadership, external audits of progress, the recruitment and advancement of female staff, and protection and encouragement of whistle-blowers.
Three years on, it is apparent that Dame Margaret's reservations, notably about leadership, were well merited - and that Police Minister Judith Collins is absolutely right to insist a greater effort must be made.
The minister is clearly disenchanted with some high-ranking officers. She speaks of a "disconnect" between head office and frontline staff.
"There's still a lot of work to be done, particularly from senior appointments, to make sure everyone is held to very high standards," she says.
Ms Collins has told the incoming Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall, of her expectations, and says they will be a high priority when she considers the position of deputy commissioner, which becomes vacant in May.
It comes as no surprise that some senior staff, denizens of the old school, are not totally convinced of the need for changes in attitude and behaviour. They come from a force that cultivated and emphasised strong bonding and camaraderie between officers.
Whatever the operational benefits of this, there were unfortunate consequences. One was an unwillingness to report inappropriate activity by fellow officers. Others were an estrangement from some societal mores, and recourse to a state of denial whenever police were criticised.
This was highlighted within months of Dame Margaret's report when Police Association president Greg O'Connor described it as being "as close to a clean bill of health as you can get".
It was far from that, as the litany of complaints of sexual assault against officers testified. Yet Mr O'Connor was clearly not alone in his belief. A report by the Auditor-General, released last June, confirmed as much. It said change could become embedded only when a critical mass of police officers understood and supported the need for it.
"Without more concerted effort now, there is a risk that progress will stall, the achievements of the police's change programme will dissipate, and the benefits of change will not be realised," it said.
The report also identified gaps in the police code of conduct, such as sexual misconduct against other staff. That provides its own commentary, but not as much as the fact that the existence of a code sprang from Dame Margaret's report. If clear guidelines on conduct and ethics had been in place years earlier, much of the damage to the police's reputation would surely have been averted.
The Auditor-General's report says the police are at a "critical point". Any quest for change will lapse if impetus is not sustained. This is particularly the case when no matter how well-founded a project, a large number of staff, especially those in senior positions, deny the need for it. They will quite happily return to old and comfortable ways.
It is, therefore, essential that high-ranking officers keep emphasising the need for a new culture. And the Police Minister is right to demand that the strongest-possible message comes from the top.