Tracy Phillips is more than just a police officer.

Since joining the New Zealand Police in 1990, the former Whanganui woman has delivered a number of projects beyond the call of duty including mounted police and LGBTI-friendly policies within the organisation.

That work has just been recognised with a Queen's Birthday Honour; Phillips has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to policing and the community.

Phillips, who also has a New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal, said the award was a "huge surprise".


"Because there's good people doing good work all over the place."

The Auckland-based woman grew up in Whanganui and returned in the 2000s to work as a police officer.

In Whanganui she began organising mounted horse patrols, despite there being no official mounted horse group within the police.

That was about doing something different and encouraging positive public interaction, she said.

"No one comes up and pats your Holden and says "Oh, that's nice".

"But people will come up and talk to you if you're on your horse. Wherever I go I take the gear and that's where we have police horses."

And they're more than just for show.

Phillips recalls using horses as part of an investigation out in the Santoft Forest and another time riding across Wanganui Racecourse to catch people breaking into cars.


"These guys got a hell of a fright when we came galloping around the corner."

Phillips left Whanganui in about 2010 to be part of the review of the Sale of Liquor Act in Wellington and was then an area commander in Northland before moving to Auckland.

She has been the driving force behind the introduction of the Tac Comms programme (tactical communications) which she has delivered in nine of the 12 police districts.

The course is aimed at getting "willing compliance" through being respectful and responsible in the way police interact with people.

"You'd think it's common sense, but common sense is not common," she said.

"It's about taking a little bit of time and just making sure it's good policing. Is it responsible and how does it look?"

Phillips has also been a strong advocate in supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community's relationship with the police.

She has ensured LGBTI-friendly policies exist within the police, that a diversity liaison officer network is operational, and the police's support of the Auckland Pride Parade for the past four years.

Phillips ran an operation on behalf of New Zealand Police to repatriate New Zealand deportees from Australia, after changes to Australian federal legislation in 2015 that meant 585 New Zealanders faced deportation, and 200 were held in immigration detention centres.