A volunteer fighter from Matata is among the largest number of female police recruits to start training at the Royal New Zealand Police College.

New Zealand Police is recognising International Women's Day by preparing for the arrival of 42 female recruits - the largest number of female recruits ever in a single Wing.

Wing 315, which has a total of 80 new recruits, begin at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua on Monday.

Dame Jenny Shipley is the wing patron and she will be supporting the recruits through their training.

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Dame Jenny was the first female Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Wing 315 recruit Kiahli Ibbetson feels honoured to have the opportunity to learn from Dame Jenny.

"She has been instrumental in encouraging women into areas traditionally held by men.
I will certainly be encouraged to perform to the best of my ability – I don't want to fail in front of a former prime minister," Ibbetson said.

Ibbetson, 19, was excited and nervous about starting at the college.

She had wanted to join police for a long time, and started the process when she was 17.

As a volunteer firefighter in Matata, she worked closely with police in her community and had seen first-hand what a rewarding and challenging job it was.

Ibbetson said joining the Matata Volunteer Fire Service, which was also a first responder brigade, had been one of the most worthwhile experiences of her life.

Joining the police and getting paid to do this valuable work in the community was an obvious choice, she said.

"I know being a police officer won't always be the easiest of jobs, but I know I'll feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day knowing that I've helped keep my community safe," Ibbetson said.

The New Zealand Police had set a target of 50 per cent female recruits by 2021.

In December NZ Police held its first Women's Recruitment Day.

"Wing 315, which is over 50 per cent female, demonstrates we are making significant progress towards achieving this target," Kaye Ryan, deputy chief executive, said.

"Police are looking to recruit people who are compassionate and empathetic, and who want to make a positive difference in their community. Gender and ethnic diversity are an important priority for NZ Police, and we are committed to improving our numbers of women so we can better represent the communities we serve."