After 30 years in the police, the last six as commissioner, Rob Robinson is enjoying being out of work and having undisturbed nights of sleep.

Mr Robinson, who left his desk at national police headquarters on December 18, said he felt privileged to have been appointed a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours.

"As much as anything it is recognition of how important police are and some of the very good work being done by a lot of cops while I've been commissioner, so I'm very grateful the organisation has been acknowledged in this way," he said.

Mr Robinson had planned to quit the force when his contract expired a year ago, but he had some unfinished business to attend to - highly publicised issues such as 111-call errors, pornographic material found on police computers and pack-rape allegations levelled at Assistant Commissioner Clint Rickards and former officers.

Mr Robinson said he was now "loving" having a quiet time with friends and family and had not mapped out any future career.

"I'm just gathering my breath and having some R and R with friends and family in the next couple of months. Beyond that I've no firm plans," he said.

The pressures and responsibilities of being police commissioner "take a toll and my family are the best commentators on that."

Now he wanted to give something back to the family for supporting him "without any great complaints" during his years in the police.

"I'm just starting to learn to sleep right through the night, and not worry about what's happened the last day or to plan the next day.

"Every time a phone call came in you're always anxious about what it heralded - whether it was someone being injured or killed on duty, or some other major event.

"So it's quite nice being able to take phone calls now and not have your gut churn over, wondering what's coming down the line."

Mr Robinson still spares a thought for police on duty at this time of the year, while everyone else celebrates, and doubts the public appreciates the sacrifices being made by police and their families.

"It always seems that the crises and issues that drag officers away from home, while they're not on rostered duty, fall on family birthdays or public holidays," he said.

"It is one of the vagaries of the job, unfortunately, and police officers being what they are - the service ethic is really alive and well - when the call comes to return to duty most staff will simply do that.

"It is easier probably to make the sacrifice in your personal life than in your professional life."

Although he sees no change to that aspect of police life, Mr Robinson said police welcomed the Government's promise of more staff (at least 1250 more within three years), but "it doesn't go all that far really" spread across the nation, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Mr Robinson has left the force proud of its achievements in reducing crime and road accidents, and increasing crime clearance rates.

"We have been clearing up 45-46 per cent of total reported crime. Some of the much-vaunted police agencies around the world, including UK constabularies, would love to have figures like that," he said.

One of his regrets was leaving the police with a blemished driving record. At Labour Weekend he was caught driving at 97km/h in a 70km/h zone.

But he said his lowest points were attending funerals of colleagues killed on duty and "standing with their widows and families, trying to make any sense of that".

- NZPA