Holding a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle, Constable Michelle Evans donned a black scarf on her head and a rose on her chest.
The young police officer stood guard outside the Christchurch Memorial Park Cemetery today, a week after last Friday's mosque shootings.
The powerful image, taken by Associated Press photographer Vincent Yu, was shared widely, with many saying it was indicative of the feeling many Kiwis had toward the Muslim community.
It came as New Zealanders around the country donned headscarves and bright scarves and as they observed two minutes' silence in honour of the 50 people who were shot dead at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
Comments included: "This is incredibly moving. Respect."
Whanganui woman Evans was a new police recruit in 2016 and told the Whanganui Chronicle she was passionate about helping people.
"I wanted to work with the community that I was brought up in really, and just help people. It's a satisfying job knowing that you're going out there and that's what you're getting paid to do, is help people."
She spoke about attending jobs and calming people down at the scene.
"When you first go out there they might be wound up, angry, but when I think they see the police arrive they kind of calm down. They know that we're going to have to solve the situation. We're not going to leave until we know everybody's safe.
"I like going to jobs, and the best part is probably going there and people are in a situation where they don't know how to deal with it, or they need someone outside of what's happening to look at a situation and give them a good pathway to go down, and at the end of it they thank you for it."
She said she wanted to focus on her frontline work before possibly working with youth.
"I find that I can quite easily talk to youth and they're happy to talk to me. I don't know if it's maybe because I'm younger ... it's easy for me to relate or know where they're coming from."
And she had a message for people she may find herself working with:
"The police have to work with the community. We're here to work with them and make Whanganui a safer place and make them feel safe. We can't do it by ourselves. We need them to work with us."