Nine detector dog teams bound for Wellington, Auckland and Fiji have graduated from the Royal New Zealand Police College’s Dog Training Centre.
The addition of three new dogs boosts the New Zealand Customs Service’s detector dog capability to 14 teams, with 10 located in Auckland and two each in Wellington and Christchurch.
The six graduating Fijian handlers and their dogs have been trained as part of the New Zealand Customs and Police Fiji Detector Dog Project, which has introduced detector dogs to the island nation in a bid to prevent criminals using Fiji as a transit point for illicit goods, such as drugs, in the Pacific.
New Zealand Customs Acting Group Manager (People and Capability) Paul Campbell said that the second batch of graduates has increased the number of teams that can be used in Fiji to eight, allowing for deployment in Suva for the first time.
“This initiative demonstrates the way agencies and countries can collaborate to deliver outcomes that benefit the wider Pacific, and is reflective of our determination to apply a range of solutions, both technical and traditional, to screen people, goods and craft,” he said.
Dog Training Programme
The detector dogs for New Zealand and Fiji were sourced from the Australian Border Force’s renowned detector dog breeding programme before being trained in New Zealand at the Police Dog Training Centre.
National Coordinator for Police Dogs Inspector Todd Southall said that the New Zealand Police is proud of the continued success of the trainers and dogs that go through the Dog Training Centre facility at Trentham.
“Police also recognise the continuing and strengthened relationship between Police and Customs in both New Zealand and Fiji. The Fiji Detector Dog Programme has a focus on long-term capability and border security, and we are very pleased with the results so far,” he said.
The Fiji Detector Dog Project, which is funded through the Pacific Security Fund administered by the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry, began two years ago.
The first trained handlers and dogs were deployed in November 2016.
The Fiji dogs, which are trained to detect drugs, cash and firearms, will provide protection at the border and within the community.
Fiji Officer-Graduates at the Royal New Zealand Police College’s Dog Training Centre (from left to right) Saimoni Tuiraki with Detector Dog Quip, Sairusi Raibili Tokasara Detector Dog Floyd and Team Leader Taito Nawai Damuni with Detector Dog Flame