Key Points:

Prime Minister Helen Clark and two senior ministers yesterday made it clear they believe that Louise Nicholas and Judith Garrett have been vindicated by the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct.

Helen Clark praised their courage.

Police Minister Annette King praised their "courage and persistence".

Justice Minister Mark Burton praised their "courage and commitment".

The commission could not hear either woman's case because police reinvestigated their claims. But their court cases failed to secure any convictions.

Helen Clark would not express confidence in the justice system when asked at a press conference yesterday.

She said it was "very important today to acknowledge the women who came forward to tell their stories to the commission".

"It is very difficult to revisit traumatic experiences like this from the past and the length of the inquiry has meant that the women who came forward have waited a long time to get closures even after the inquiry began.

"And I want to particularly acknowledge the courage of Louise Nicholas and Judith Garrett, who by coming forward enabled the spotlight to go on what had happened and for change to be made to make it better for women in the future."

Last night Louise Nicholas said she was "stoked" by Dame Margaret Bazley's recommendations for police to clean up their house.

The Rotorua resident said she had feared the worst when the commission decided to move its proceedings out of the public eye and into confidential hearings.

"I thought we were buggered," she said of her doubt that the women who took their complaints to the commission of inquiry would be taken seriously.

But Ms Nicholas said one of those women, who complained of relatively recent police misconduct, had assured her after giving evidence that she was confident Dame Margaret would conduct a thorough and robust investigation.

"I am stoked that Dame Margaret has lived up to that expectation," she said. She also praised Helen Clark's support of women who she said had all but given up hope of having their grievances listened to.

But she called for "the good coppers to stand up and say, 'We have had enough'."

Police Commissioner Howard Broad did not name names when he issued an apology to the women who complained to the inquiry.

"I unreservedly and unequivocally apologise to the women who were caught up in the actions of these few officers. I acknowledge the hurt and the harm that has been done and the grief that has been caused to you, your families and your supporters."

Mr Broad would not answer questions about suspended Auckland police commander Clint Rickards, saying he was part of a disciplinary process - the police disciplinary tribunal.

Mr Rickards, who has been twice acquitted on rape charges, made it to the rank of assistant commissioner but was knocked back for further promotion.

Helen Clark was keen to take credit for that decision.

"As you know, that individual had a steady rise through the police until he put his name forward to be a deputy commissioner. He then ran into the obstacle of me and the Minister of Police who, on becoming aware of the nature of the allegations and the fact that they were still circulating, declined to consider forwarding his name to the Governor-General."