Saturday, July 20, 2024

2023 Woolf Fisher Fellowship recipients rich in family history

The 2023 Woolf Fisher Fellowships have been presented, with some special family connections recognised as part of this year’s presentation.

Police Deputy Commissioner, Tania Kura, co-chair of the Woolf Fisher Executive panel, said the nominations received this year were of an extremely high calibre.

“Rest assured the process we go through to assess the nominations is lengthy and thorough, culminating in the selection of 15 Fellows,” she said.

“But putting aside the necessary and robust process, what’s important is that you are here with us today, alongside your peers and family members.

“You continue the proud tradition of being a Woolf Fisher Police Fellow and for that I congratulate each of you.”

In 2017, the Woolf Fisher Police Fellowship programme was established to recognise excellence and outstanding service by Police employees and encourage positive development in policing in New Zealand.

From 2017 to 2019, 15 Fellows each year were able to enjoy the benefits of the awards, visiting Police jurisdictions worldwide and enjoying quality time away with whānau.

Then, COVID-19 changed the world before all but two of the 2020 recipients could carry out their travel plans. Some of the 2020 Fellows adapted their plans to include travel in New Zealand; others opted to patiently wait out the pandemic.

Commissioner Andrew Coster shared some good news in his opening remarks.

“This year marks a five-year relationship between New Zealand Police and the Woolf Fisher Trust. It was therefore a privilege for Sir Noel and I to re-sign the MoU to carry that relationship forward.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Woolf Fisher Trust for providing this amazing pathway to acknowledge our people’s outstanding contributions to Police.”

There were a number of family firsts within the 2023 cohort. For the first time, there are sisters among the Fellows, Sergeant Caroline Johns from Wellington District and Nicola Johns from Police National Headquarters.

But that’s not the only family connection in the group. Detective Sergeant Caroline Wharton, from Bay of Plenty, has Woolf Fisher blood in her veins as her mum has previously received a Woolf Fisher Fellowship.

Caroline admits being “completely shocked” when she received the news from Commissioner Coster.

“I actually got quite emotional because my mum had received a Woolf Fisher Fellowship for her contribution to education, so it was pretty special for her too.

“I honestly believe it is actually about the people around you. You can’t achieve these type of things without amazing people around me so it is just as much for them. That’s what makes it so special, because people need to believe in you to nominate you.”

Caroline joined Police in 2002 and has been working across the Waikato, Wellington and Bay of Plenty – most recently as a Detective Sergeant based in Rotorua. The fellowship will allow her to travel for six weeks and Caroline plans to use it to learn more in the field of high-level, complex investigations.

“I’m really passionate about that area,” she says. “We don’t get a lot of exposure to international crime, so I’d like to further my knowledge in that area.”

Caroline Wharton volunteering as part of track work in Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest.

Caroline – pictured, right, volunteering as part of track work in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest – would also like to visit the UN to build on the study she’s doing around women in policing as part of her Masters in Strategic Management.

“I’m still working on the exact focus of my dissertation but it will be around how to help the organisations retain and promote women. If we can get that right, it will help all sorts of other areas.”

Caroline cites the mentoring programme for women in Rotorua, which has since been extended to include all staff, as an example. She is currently on secondment as an Acting Senior Sergeant as part of the Information Management Tool (IMT) Development Team.

“I was really lucky to have been picked to be part of the national core reference team for IMT,” she says. “It’s about improving things for our staff with an amazing application. And being full time on it now is brilliant. It means I can effect positive change for the whole organisation.”

Between work and study, Caroline says the fellowship couldn’t have come at a better time.

“[My children] were crying when I told them. They are so incredibly proud and they were super super excited and want to go to Disneyland. They are picking up the slack at the moment so it’s just perfect timing – they could see all this hard work is worth it.”

2023 Woolf Fisher Police Fellows ​

  • Inspector Alisse Robertson, Auckland City (formerly Counties Manukau)
  • Ann-Marie Pickles, RNZPC
  • Cameron Bayly, PNHQ
  • Sergeant Caroline Johns, Wellington (formerly Eastern)
  • Detective Sergeant Caroline Wharton, Bay of Plenty
  • Senior Constable Christopher Pelosi, Central
  • Senior Constable Jane Dunn, Wellington
  • Senior Sergeant Karl Wilson, Auckland
  • Senior Constable Kim Munro, Canterbury
  • Detective Senior Sergeant Megan Goldie, Waitematā
  • Natalie Douglas, Waikato
  • Nicola Johns, PNHQ
  • Constable Taiaiti (Piho) Tuaiti, Counties Manukau
  • Sergeant Wayne Paxton, Counties Manukau

One Fellow has requested to remain anonymous. 

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