Halim Hassouna joined the police to do his bit for his country - but he never imagined that his first shift, and work for the foreseeable future, would be on the frontline of a pandemic and national lockdown.

Hassouna's first day as a police constable is on Monday and he will likely be tasked with patrolling the streets of Auckland making sure people are complying with the Covid-19 lockdown.

It's not a situation he ever expected to be in - but he's ready and raring to go into his new career after working for years to get into the blue uniform.

"I don't know what my duties will be, I'm just keen for whatever," he said.


"When I graduated, I was prepared for the worst situations - but it never came to mind that we'd be in this particular situation.

"But this is what I signed up for, I am a police officer and I just expect the unexpected and deal with it no matter what.

"I can't wait to get out and get started."

Hassouna was born and raised in Egypt and emigrated to New Zealand in 2013.

He was a dentistry student in Cairo but moved into filmmaking, wanting a new challenge and direction.

When he arrived in Auckland he spoke no English and set about learning the language on top of his native Arabic and French.

He soon realised that while filmmaking was a nice change of pace, being a cop was his real dream.

Once he'd mastered the language - complete with an understanding of the unique Kiwi slant to English - Hassouna decided to apply to become a recruit at the Royal New Zealand Police College.

But it wasn't until the March 15 terror attack that he was determined to make the front line his life's work.

Constable Halim Hassouna's first shift with the police is on Monday. Photo / Alex Burton
Constable Halim Hassouna's first shift with the police is on Monday. Photo / Alex Burton

"When I joined the police, the main reason was my love of the community," he said.


"When I moved here I experienced no discrimination or racism and I really felt like I wanted to return the favour to the people.

"I'm a Muslim and after the Christchurch incident I was really encouraged by my community to join - they felt we were underrepresented and they encouraged me to do something that would make us all feel safer."

He trained hard, running to get his fitness up and dropping 12kg in the process.

He studied hard.

And not only did he get into college, he graduated late last month with flying colours.

Hassouna is just the second Egypt-born Kiwi in the force.

"I applied to join before the shooting - but after it happened, I was determined, I took it really seriously, I worked really hard to achieve my goal, to be proud of myself, to be in this position now," he said.

"But I would never have imagined going into the job like this."

He was one of 59 new cops to emerge from Wing 336, boosting the total number of police past 10,000 for the first time.

Aptly, the patrol on the wing is Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Graduation ceremonies are usually quite the affair with speeches, proud family in attendance and but due to the pandemic the celebration was pared back entirely.

"A lot of people had family travelling in from overseas - from India, China and America- and they had to cancel," Hassouna said.

"It was pretty emotional.

The new constables took their oaths before the Commissioner and Dr Bloomfield in small groups without to observe the limit on mass gatherings.

"It is what it is, and we had to accept it, we still got to graduate so it wasn't that bad," Hassouna said.

Hassouna will be stationed in the Waitemata District and last week met his new boss, District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan.

He offered to start early and bolster his colleagues' efforts but police are sticking to a roster that will see rested and healthy staff on at all times.

He was put to use though, helping to voice a message in Arabic as part of a series of police videos aimed at reaching as many ethnicities as possible about the lockdown situation.

Arabic message for Level 4

This is a message in Arabic ahead of the country moving to Alert level 4. For more information go to: www.covid19.govt.nz

Posted by Auckland City District Police on Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Hassouna is nervous, naturally, for his first few days in the job - and his partner and 12-year-old son are also anxious, mainly about him being exposed to Covid-19.

"My son asks me every day 'why are you leaving?'," he said.

"He and my partner are concerned, they don't want me to go out at all but I explained to them that this is my job, that I am a police officer and I am the front line.

"Of course, I am anxious about putting my life at risk - it's a big sacrifice for all of us to be out on the streets in these conditions.

"I hope that people stick to the instructions, stay home and stay safe.

"We just want people to cooperate."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website