The race to become the next Commissioner of Police is now officially underway, although in truth the contenders have been jockeying for position for years.
This is the first time in six years the role has been up for grabs and, like any race, timing is crucial.
Favourites can fall away with the finish line in sight, or a rank outsider could come from nowhere.
In this case, the field is wide open and the winner could mean we see the first woman in charge of the New Zealand Police.
The current Commissioner, Mike Bush, will leave Police National Headquarters in April, after his first, three-year term was extended by two years.
"Bushie", as he's called by the troops, was appointed under the previous National Government and had a strong supporter in former Police Minister Judith Collins (the local MP in Papakura, when he was in charge of the Counties Manukau district).
He's also forged a close relationship with the current Police Minister Stuart Nash.
Law and order is an important policy for the the Labour-New Zealand First coalition government, which has promised to hire 1800 new police officers over three years (but is struggling to do so).
So the choice of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as to who will lead the government's key frontline response agency will be intriguing.
Applications for the top job are now open and close on October 13, according to an advertisement posted on the website of recruiters Jackson Stone.
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"This is like the Game of Thrones," said one source. "Everyone has been waiting for their shot at the top job ... and they'll be sharpening the knives."
That might sound melodramatic, but timing is everything. Like any organisation, there are numerous examples of ambitious police officers seeking to climb the ladder, only to fall out of favour.
One of the leading contenders would have been Viv Rickard, the previous statutory Deputy Commissioner who missed out on the top job in 2014.
The pair infamously did not get on; Rickard was seconded to the Ministry of Social Development for two years soon after Bush was promoted ahead of him.
Rickard returned to PNHQ, where he was in charge of the 12 police districts.
But his five-year term as Deputy Commissioner was not renewed by Nash last year and he moved to a deputy chief executive role at MSD.
With Bush gone, the speculation in police circles was rife that Rickard might make a comeback.
However, the Herald understands Rickard is enjoying his time in the other government agency and will not throw his hat in the ring for a second time.
Nor is it likely his replacement as the statutory Deputy Commissioner, Wally Haumaha, would be successful given the troubles that followed his appointment last year.
A government inquiry cleared the process which led to Haumaha's promotion - after the Herald revealed his controversial comments which upset Louise Nicholas - but a separate Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation was critical of his behaviour towards three women.
Since then, Haumaha has taken a central role in liaising with Muslim leaders following the horrors of the Christchurch mosque shootings and negotiating with protesters over the land dispute at Ihumātao.
The Prime Minister sought legal advice about whether she could sack him (she couldn't) so it seems unlikely he would put his name forward to the Governor-General.
However, Haumaha could still have a significant influence on the process.
He has the ear of senior figures in New Zealand First - for which he was once selected as a candidate - as well as MPs in Labour's Māori caucus, and the support of very influential leaders in Māoridom.
According to his evidence to the inquiry into his appointment, Haumaha suspected who who was behind the leaks to the Herald and was backed up in Parliament with veiled threats by NZ First MP Shane Jones.
The next cabs off the rank, in terms of experience, are Bush's other current deputies.
Bush promoted two officers, Mike Clement and Glenn Dunbier, to the rank of deputy commissioner when he took the top job in 2014.
These appointments were made under his powers as the commissioner, as opposed to the statutory role held by Haumaha.
The statutory role is appointed by the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, following a recruitment process run by the State Services Commission.
It is understood Clement, who graduated from the same police wing as Bush in 1978, does not want to become Commissioner.
Meanwhile, for the past several years, Dunbier has been moved sideways on secondment to a government agency in Australia.
A fourth deputy commissioner, Audrey Sonerson, was appointed in late 2016 and responsible for resource management such as the Police College, ICT and professional conduct of staff.
Sonerson, who has kept a low profile, has previously held senior roles in government agencies including the day-to-day running of the Ministry of Justice.
She was only at PNHQ for less than two years before she was seconded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as the deputy chief executive.
However, the current job description for the Commissioner of Police would rule out a civilian appointment - which had been rumoured for years.
Only current or former sworn New Zealand police officers can apply, a criteria which rules out Sonerson but also Mark Evans, one of Bush's confidants, who holds the role of deputy chief executive.
This leaves only Deputy Commissioners John Tims and Andy Coster on the second tier of the current executive who can apply for the top job.
Tims was internally promoted by Bush to supervise the 12 police districts after Rickard left, not Haumaha, who retained his responsibilities in charge of charge of Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services.
Coster took over from Sonerson in an acting capacity during her secondment to MFAT.
Tims and Coster are widely expected to apply for the top job and contest a wide-open field, which could include the first woman to be the Commissioner of Police.
Tusha Penny and Lauano Sue Schwalger were promoted last year to join Sandra Venables as the only women to attain the rank of Assistant Commissioner.
Schwalger, who last year received the Samoan chiefly title of Lauano, rose to national prominence as the detective in charge of the high-profile Scott Guy murder investigation.
Penny, who is of Ngāti Porou descent, is best known for blowing the whistle on a backlog of child abuse cases then leading widespread changes to how abuse and sexual violence cases are investigated across the country.
Venables, currently in charge of road policing, was just the second woman to be given a District Command role when she took control of the Eastern District in 2014.
During her time in charge, Venables came under fire by Napier MP Stuart Nash, ironically now the Minister of Police.
Unable to defend herself publicly, it was left to Viv Rickard to write to then Labour Party leader Andrew Little, now the Justice Minister, to stop Nash's repeated criticism of her.
Two other fresh faces, or "blue flamers" as frontline police refer to young officers whose ambitions burn bright, expected to put their hand up for the top job include Assistant Commissioners Richard Chambers and Sam Hoyle.
The Commissioner of Police is responsible for keeping the peace, public safety, law enforcement, crime prevention, dealing with emergencies like the Christchurch earthquakes, or national security like the mosque shootings which claimed the lives of 51 innocent people.
These operational matters must be balanced with the the "system role" of the Police; working with other government agencies to achieve strategic goals, such as improving justice for Māori, reducing family and sexual violence, as well as tackling organised crime.
It's not a job for the faint hearted.