Police recruit: Go chase your dreams

Patron Alan Richards inspects his wing. Photo supplied.

When it comes to giving advice to members of a Police recruit wing, it’s unlikely any other patron has known their stuff quite like Alan Richards MSM.

Alan, a long-time Police employee, a retired sergeant with over 60 years of combined New Zealand Police and Metropolitan Police service, and a genuine Royal New Zealand Police College legend, couldn't hide the emotion as he addressed his 78-strong graduating wing.

“Today you stand on top of the mountain,” he told them. “Well done team – you did it, and I’m immensely proud of you.

Alan Richards. Photo supplied.

“I will miss you and will eagerly follow your path through Police. Wing 374 – go chase your dreams.”

Alan and wing members celebrated the end of initial training on 23 May with a graduation ceremony at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua, which was packed with whānau, friends and other well-wishers.

Alan has seen many changes in his time, not least the return of the 20-week initial training course – Wing 374 was the first 20-week course since 2000, when initial training was shortened to 19 weeks, then further shortened to 16 weeks in 2015.

Director of Training Superintendent Warwick Morehu – a recruit when Alan was an initial training sergeant at the RNZPC – addressed the change.

“You are the first wing to graduate under the refreshed 20-week Initial Training Programme, also known as a foundation training,” he says.

“You will now have a stronger and deeper understanding of our diverse communities and their many challenges, but also how to build strong relationships.

“The extra time you have spent on paperwork, practical scenarios, driver training and the focus on tactical decision making will see you going to your districts with increased confidence, ready to put your learning into practice to support your communities.

“You leave here anchored by our values, good leadership, and support.

"I’ve no doubt this will enable you to head out to the frontline and carry out your core policing duties, ultimately to reassure our communities and keep them all safe.”

Dignitaries on the dais at the graduation ceremony included Commissioner Andrew Coster, Police Executive members and Police Minister Mark Mitchell, himself once a recruit under Alan’s tutelage.

Like Warwick, Minister Mitchell remembered Alan from his recruit days.

“I was in Wing 116 in 1989 and Alan Richards was the sergeant of Section Three, and everyone wanted to be on Section Three.

“His wisdom, leadership and guidance has had a massive effect on not hundreds but thousands of our police officers.”

The Wing 374 graduates are the customary diverse mix of New Zealanders – former military personnel, holders of degrees, tradespeople, volunteers, high-achieving sports people and more.

Many have family members serving in Police, and some have already worked for Police – as Authorised Officers, in an Emergency Communications Centre, File Management Centre or Police Infringement Bureau, and our Talent Pathways teams.

Twelve were born overseas and 20 speak more than one language – including Constable Moreen Shamoel (Wellington), pictured, who came to New Zealand to escape war, and speaks Assyrian, Kurdish, Aramaic, Arabic, English and now some Māori.

Constable Moreen Shamoel. Photo supplied.

After arriving in New Zealand knowing just two words of English, she was awarded the English Language Partners Outstanding Learning Achievement Award in 2017 – and later became a tutor.

“I escaped the war in Iraq and went to Syria for three years but then made New Zealand my home 16 years ago,” she says.

“I lived at the Women’s Refuge for several months after separating from my husband, so it’s a proud moment for me.

"I am really excited to be in this new career.”

Moreen credited her supportive sergeant, section and wingmates for getting her through, fulfilling her nine-year dream of joining Police.

Constable Ella Kirk (Tasman), winner of the Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award, says she was inspired by her three children.

“I hope my journey to joining Police has shown them the power of self-belief and courage,” she says.

“Goals can come, but through perseverance and dedication.”

Ella’s husband Jared is a police officer and also won the Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award when he graduated with Wing 347.

Two of the top award winners have previously served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Leadership Award winner Constable Steven Smith (Bay of Plenty), pictured, a former Communications and Information Systems Technician in the Air Force, says the wing was incredibly lucky to have had such an engaged patron.

Constable Steven Smith. Photo supplied.

“Alan made the effort to sit with each and every one of us at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, imparting many years of wisdom, providing us with stories, jokes and memorable quotes.”

The Minister’s Award for First in Wing went to Constable Kayla Holley (Eastern). She also served in the Air Force as a Logistics Specialist, rising to the rank of corporal.

She has a keen interest in fitness, has competed nationally in bodybuilding and has represented the New Zealand Defence Force in volleyball.

“No dream is too big or too impossible to achieve if you have the determination and bravery to go after it,” she says.

“Keep believing in yourself, stay focused on your goals and never lose sight of what you’re capable of.”

The winner of the Driver Training Award, Constable Brooklyn Greer-Atkins (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rakaipaaka, Canterbury District), says he enjoyed the 20 weeks of the course, particularly the driving and road policing components.

“I’m proud of our wing members for making it to graduation…” he says. “My instructor made it easy for me to learn the principles of urgent duty driving and I am excited to get behind the wheel in district responding to jobs.”


Minister’s Award recognising top student: Constable Kayla Holley (Eastern District)

Patron’s Award for second in wing: Constable Rebekah Cullen (Southern)

Commissioner’s Award for Leadership: Constable Steven Smith (Bay of Plenty)

Driver Training and Road Policing Practice Award: Constable Brooklyn Greer-Atkins (Canterbury)

Firearms Award: Constable Isaak Te Hiwi (Southern)

Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award: Constable Ella Kirk (Tasman)


The new constables’ first day of duty in their districts was Monday, 3 June 2024. They are deployed as follows:

Northland 4; Waitematā – 7; Auckland City – 11; Counties Manukau – 8; Waikato – 5; Bay of Plenty – 6; Eastern – 7; Central – 8; Wellington – 10; Tasman – 2; Canterbury – 6; Southern - 4.


30.8 per cent of wing members are female, and 69.2 per cent are male. New Zealand European make up 59 per cent of the wing, with Māori 19.2 per cent, Pasifika 12.8 per cent, Asian 3.8 per cent and LAAM 1.3 per cent.

About the patron

Alan Richards is a serving New Zealand Police employee who has given exceptional service to policing and police training in New Zealand and overseas.

Alan Richards. Photo supplied.

He is in his 61st year of policing, having started in the Metropolitan Police in London in 1963 – where his duties included riding police horses in the mounted section – before emigrating to New Zealand in 1974.

He was posted to Whanganui, then transferred to the Royal New Zealand Police College in 1986 as a recruit instructor.

As well as training hundreds of recruit wings, he went to Timor Leste to help design the first recruit training course for the new police service there, and has also trained Pacific Island officers at the RNZPC, and in Bougainville and Niue.

Alan coordinates the Probationary Constable Workplace Assessment Programme, with around 1250 probationary constables currently involved.

In 2015 Alan received the New Zealand Police Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution.

He is married to Karen and they have two adult children.

Commissioner Andrew Coster puts the RNZPC korowai on First in Wing Constable Kayla Holley. Photo supplied.

Hats off to us! The new constables enjoy that just-graduated feeling. Photo supplied.

The graduates prepare for the Police haka, in front of mementos of loved ones who have passed. Photo supplied.

The graduates perform the Police haka, in front of mementos of loved ones who have passed. Photo supplied.


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