Senior Constable Phillip (Tiny) Taylor tries "to stay as far under the radar" as he can.

Despite this, the Rotorua dog handler was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit this morning in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Taylor joined the New Zealand Police in 1972, became a dog handler in 1996 and is now New Zealand Police's longest-serving narcotic dog handler.

Senior Constable Phillip (Tiny) Taylor and Murphy in Rotorua. Photo / Supplied
Senior Constable Phillip (Tiny) Taylor and Murphy in Rotorua. Photo / Supplied

"The dynamics of policing today are a lot different from back in those days ... I was certainly lucky to be able to work with the tactical groups of various sorts, plus general policing, plus dogs, plus small stations," Taylor told the Rotorua Daily Post.


"I've had quite a varied career. I'm not so sure if people would spend 46 or 47 years in the police anymore."

Taylor said he "had always had an interest in dogs".

His narcotics role has covered the Bay of Plenty and Waikato for the last 22 years.

"It just so happened that a vacancy came up and I applied for it ... They don't come up very often."

Taylor said one of his "most satisfying" tasks in the police was before his dog handling days.

He worked in the Auckland-based mortuary during Operation Overdue, to help identify bodies of the 257 people killed when Air New Zealand DC10 flight TE901 crashed into Mt Erebus on an Antarctic sightseeing expedition in 1979.

"I didn't do the extraction from the ice, but in Auckland, of course, was the inquiry team work, the investigating and handling of the bodies, involving families and trying to identify the victims."

In 2007, Taylor was one of 218 Defence Force staff awarded a New Zealand Special Service Medal for their painstaking work after the crash; the country's worst air disaster to date.


"It was a horrific job but it had to be done, and I think the people that were on it were all pretty happy at the end of the day that they were able to contribute in a small way," he said.

Taylor also played a key role in developing a new detector dog harness which is now the national standard and has been distributed across the Pacific.

He said it was "just something small to make life a little easier".

"Each agency had their own, I thought ours could be improved, so with the help of the people that ultimately made it for us, we put together a more practical harness for when we deploy the dog."

Taylor said the best dog he had worked with was a labrador-staffie cross called Kaos.

"It was a bit of a troublesome dog but I won the nationals twice with him. He was a particularly good, effective dog. Murphy, the current dog I've got, is also a solid dog, but Kaos would definitely have been the best. He retired when he was 10 and a half, so I had him for quite some time."

Taylor has been a long-serving member and volunteer at the Rotorua Pistol Club.

While on the committee he has helped manage facilities and organise the club as well as regional and national events to ensure they are run to an international safety and security standard.

In 2005 Taylor was awarded the NZ Police Commissioner's Commendation for his work as a narcotic detector dog handler and in 2007 he was awarded the 35 Year Clasp for his unbroken service.

He said today's honour was "very much a surprise".

"Well, I thought there were a lot more deserving people out there than me. It's probably a stock standard answer."