It's been a 20-year journey that's seen Superintendent Chris de Wattignar work around New Zealand and abroad before being appointed as the new Central Districts police Commander.

De Wattignar joined the police in 1999 and has spent most of his career in South Auckland.

While in Auckland, he led a renewed initiative to investigate a pilot programme to train a police recruit wing in Auckland which was continued by police.

Over the course of his career, de Wattignar has worked the front line on general duties, been part of the criminal investigation branch on serious crime squads and child abuse teams, and has also worked in road policing, intelligence and recruit training. De Wattignar has worked out of the national police headquarters in Wellington and been based in Nelson Bays.

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Between 2014 and 2017 he led 200 staff in his role as area commander of Counties Manukau south.

De Wattignar's next role saw him take on a New Zealand government secondment with the United Nations in Syria. During the nine months he was based in Syria, de Wattignar investigated war crimes and the use of chemical weapons in the country.

Following his overseas secondment, de Wattignar returned to New Zealand and the police in 2018 to take on a new task covering a large portion of the North Island.

"In November 2018, I began a secondment as district commander in the central district. I now have 800 staff in policing services on behalf of 365,000 citizens across a very large geographical area," he said.

"Obviously I am keen to continue with our aim of providing an efficient police service that's based on results. I firmly believe in a proactive approach to crime and crash prevention which in the end helps reduce offending and victimisation, creating happier, safer communities."

De Wattignar was permanently appointed as district commander last month.

"I am very much looking forward to meeting the community I will be serving," de Wattignar said.

"I am based in Palmerston North, but will spend time in the wider central area while on duty and off duty too."

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The central district policing area includes Taranaki, Whanganui, Ruapehu, Manawatu, Horowhenua and Tararua.

De Wattignar takes over the position from Sue Schwalger who was appointed in 2014. Schwalger is now an assistant commissioner.