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Issue No. 411 March 2017

Waitangi – an outsider’s view

As an outsider tasked with observing this year’s Waitangi operation, Rob Neil, of the Lessons Learnt team, was impressed.


Engagement was the order of the day.
Photos: Rob Neil, NZ Police

In contrast to some negative reports I saw, the Waitangi I saw was a stunning success: to all but a handful of ‘issue-motivated individuals’ – and there will always be some - it was a big, happy celebration.

The wider police team – both Northland staff and highly professional ‘imports’ from Auckland – truly exemplified our values, guaranteeing law-abiding people felt safe and were safe at Waitangi.

Outside visitors might never have appreciated the strength of our subtle ‘steel fist in a velvet glove’ presence but I saw many instances of a ‘softly-softly’ approach being put to good effect to address potential issues before they became actual issues.

Police Minister Paula Bennett meets the ILO team – in their ‘non -uniform uniforms’.

Iwi Liaison Officers (ILOs) were a stellar resource and had a presence way out of proportion to their actual numbers… the clever buggers were everywhere, talking, listening, helping, guiding, communicating and really engaging with the community.

However, it was only their non-uniform uniforms that differentiated the ILOs’ approach from that of other staff, all of whom also showed the values needed to make prevention real, and not just a word.

What was clear was that Waitangi is not just a one-off event in Northland Police’s calendar but represents a snapshot of the district’s genuine commitment to its community.

This was my first Waitangi - I hope it will not be my last. Congratulations, Northland - this was an eye-opening education that made me proud to be part of this organisation.

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