A "long list" of eight contenders to be the next Commissioner of Police has been picked and will soon be whittled down for a second round of interviews.
Mike Bush will step down from the top job in April after serving six years over two terms and the race to replace him is wide open.
Some serious candidates decided against putting their hat in the ring.
Among those did not apply were former Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, whose term was not renewed last year, and current Assistant Commissioner Tusha Penny also did not apply citing family reasons.
Penny was widely considered to be a strong contender to become the first woman to become Police Commissioner.
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The Herald understands eight applicants were invited for a preliminary interview with the State Services Commission selection panel, including two based overseas.
One of those is current Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement, who graduated from the same wing of Police College with Bush in 1978.
He was expected to retire along with Bush next and was believed to have officially withdrawn from the race to replace his wingmate.
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However, Clement - who is in charge of the police 'gun buyback scheme' and had to front the media this week over a privacy breach -is now widely believed to be a frontrunner for the job.
Another likely to be on the shortlist is a fellow Deputy Commissioner, John Tims, who was internally promoted by Bush to supervise the 12 police districts after Rickard left.
Tims was the former district commander for Counties Manukau and is probably best known to the public as the lead detective investigating the murders of the Kahui twins in 2006.
Another on the long list of interviewees is believed to be Dave Cliff, who was Canterbury district commander during the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, before being promoted to the Assistant Commissioner in charge of road policing.
He was one of the final three candidates the last time the Police Commissioner role was vacant in 2014, with Cliff and Rickard missing out to Bush.
A year later, Cliff was seconded to oversee the final phase of the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority and left the police in 2017 to take up an international road safety role with the Red Cross.
Based in Switzerland, Cliff has been travelling the world as the chief executive of the Global Road Safety Partnership.
His experience with road safety will be viewed favourably by the selection panel, with the national road toll being consistently high in recent years.
Another candidate on the long list currently living overseas is Glenn Dunbier. While technically holding the rank of Deputy Commissioner, Dunbier has spent the past two years in Australia.
A police veteran of more than 30 years, Dunbier was seconded to the Australia Civil-Military Centre which coordinates the Government's response to international crises like natural disasters and conflicts.
Fluent in te reo, Dunbier was well regarded by frontline staff in his time as the Bay of Plenty district commander.
The two "outsiders" may be considered favourably by the SSC selection panel as a "clean pair of hands", as the Independent Police Conduct Authority investigates a potential culture of bullying within the police.
There are five other candidates on the current long list who were given preliminary interviews.
One of those is Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha, whose appointment last year created months of controversy.
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 unprofessional 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.
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.
Another to apply is acting Deputy Commissioner Andy Coster, considered "very bright", who had a stint as the Southern district commander and has a law degree.
He's been filling in as one of Bush's deputies after Audrey Sonerson, a long-serving public servant, took a secondment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade less than two years in the job.
She cannot apply for the Police Commissioner role, as the job description ruled out a civilian appointment - which had been rumoured for years - as only current or former sworn New Zealand police officers can apply.
Rounding out the final candidates are Assistant Commissioners Sandra Venables and Richard Chambers.
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.
Nash, along with the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, will make the final call as to who will be appointed as the Police Commissioner.
Chambers, along with Coster, would be among the youngest of the candidates in their late 40s.
He is currently in charge of all organised and serious crime investigations and strategy, which this week saw a major win in court with admissions of money laundering by a senior Comanchero gang member and lawyer .
Organised crime is a strong focus for both the Government - which has promised 700 extra staff to dismantle organised crime - and the National Party's recent "tough on gang" policies heading into the 2020 election year.
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.