Auckland, August 2, 2020
Enhancing human capital, high quality service delivery and prevention of crime through partnerships are three key priorities that the new Police Commissioner Andy Coster has set for the New Zealand Police during his five-year term.
Speaking at a special Powhiri held in his honour on his appointment as Police Commissioner at the Pipitea Marae in Wellington on Friday, July 31, 2020, he said that inclusion, constant consultation with all communities and closer working relationship with other public services will also form a part of his regime.
About 500 men and women, representing the Police, government departments, the judiciary, officials of public and private sector organisations and community leaders.
Among them were Deputy Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners, Deputy Chief Executives, District Commanders, Inspectors and other sworn and non-sworn officers of the New Zealand Police, members of the Police Commissioner’s Maori, Pacific and Ethnic Focus Forum, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Commissioner Coster’s parents Dr Gregor and Heather Coster, his wife Jo and their children.
Police Commissioner Andy Coster with his wife Jo and parents Gregor and Heather (extreme left)
Mr Coster mentioned ‘Be First, then do,’ as his primary objective as Police Commissioner.
“This is to ensure that New Zealand Police is delivering from a position of internal strength; that we embody the kind of organisation that we need to be to achieve our outcomes in communities. We need to be an organisation that brings humanity to all our interactions, if we are to achieve the most positive impact we can in people’s lives,” he said.
Emphasising the human aspect of policing, he said it was imperative to understand what happens at the human level in order to select the most appropriate response to a situation.
“Given the increasing complexity of what we need to navigate, we also need our people to be able to bring the best of themselves to their work. This will happen when we create an environment in which diverse thought is welcome, and leaders see it as their role to enable our people to be their best,” Mr Coster said.
He said that a proper understanding of public expectations is essential to deliver the quality and level of service required.
“There are some core expectations that the public have of us as an organisation, and we must make sure we meet them. We have a range of different demands to balance and we need to be well attuned to changing expectations, as well as looking after the core responsibilities that are always with us,” Mr Coster said.
Prevention through Partnerships
Describing the Police as a ‘genuine blue line,’ he said that New Zealand can become the safest country in the world only through community partnerships.
“I am greatly heartened by the level of collaboration that I am seeing in communities and across the public service. We need to keep building on this, seeking genuine partnership to strengthen communities. There are a range of practical things that fall out of these priorities and we have already started,” Mr Coster said and reiterated his commitment to make ‘New Zealand Police an organisation for its people and for New Zealanders it serves.’
He spoke of the challenges that confront the New Zealand Police and cited family harm and organised crime as examples. He said that as an organisation, New Zealand Police has shown the ability to rise to the challenges.
Mr Coster said that he was keen to promote the policing as calm, compassionate and confident service –qualities that were underscored by the service during Covid-19 lockdown.
“Our model is underpinned by idea of maintaining the community’s consent for what we do. Walking this line is no mean feat – the community does not always speak with one voice. However, I believe we have demonstrated what can be achieved when we go about it the right way,” he said.
About Andy Coster
Graduating from the Royal New Zealand Police Academy in April 1997, Andy Coster worked for the next six years in various frontline and investigative roles at Counties Manukau Police and Auckland Metro Crime.
He was admitted to the High Court of New Zealand as a Barrister and Solicitor and worked as Solicitor at Meredith Connell in the Auckland Office of the Crown Solicitor in 2004. The following two years were spent as Response Manager and Section Supervisor at Counties Manukau West and in 2006 became the District Deployment Manager of the District.
Mr Coster took charge as the Area Commander of Auckland City Central in 2009 and over the next five years countered the challenges posed by the Central Business District of the busiest city in the country. During this period, he also served as the Armed Offenders Squad Commander for Auckland.
He was appointed District Commander, Southern Police District in 2015 and a year later, became the Deputy Chief Executive at the Ministry of Justice and moved to the Police Headquarters in Wellington in March 2018 as Acting Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Partnership. Shortly thereafter, he took charge of Strategy and Partnerships in the same capacity, until his appointment by the Prime Minister as the Police Commissioner.
Mr Coster is a Member of the Institute of Directors New Zealand and former Trustee of the Mangere Genesis Youth Trust.
Among the speakers at the Powhiri were Justice Sector Reform Advocate Sir Kim Workman, Chief Executive Te Arawhiti Office of Maori Crown Relations Lil Anderson, Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, Professor Gregor Coster and Police Commissioner’s Focus Forum Member Tino Pereira. Deputy Commissioner (Maori, Pacific and Maori Services) Wallace Haumaha was the Master of Ceremonies. Earlier, four Maori Leaders participated in Mihi (speeches), each followed by Waiata Tautoko.
(Picture Credits: Abbess Manshin, Member, Police Commissioner’s Focus Forum)