Sergeant Nick Lawton is getting back to his roots as the new Officer in Charge (O/C) Feilding.
At a pōwhiri at the Feilding Station on Wednesday (27 January 2021) , Nick was officially welcomed by police staff, local iwi, family and friends, and the Feilding Mayor, Helen Worboys.
Representatives of Ngāti Tukorehe (Horowhenua iwi) gifted Nick to Ngāti Kauwhata and his Police colleagues at the ceremony.
“The Feilding team is a high-performing team and they love their work so it’s a real privilege to join them,” says Sgt Lawton.
“They do fantastic work in the community, especially with their Blue Light youth programmes and they have built many solid partnerships.”
After joining Police in 2004, Sgt Lawton was posted to Palmerston North where he spent a few years on the frontline, including some time in Feilding. From there he joined the Manawatū CIB and worked on various teams, including child protection, car squad, and organised crime.
Prior to his new role, Sgt Lawton was a Pouwhakataki: Iwi Liaision Coordinator for the Manawatū Area – a role which he says helped him in further connecting with Te Ao Māori and the community.
“I spent about six years as a Pouwhakataki and during my time I worked alongside some passionate staff and partners on a number of key community initiatives, including our highly successful driver licencing programmes, Te Ara Tika and Te Ara Māhorahora.”
“I’m really embedded in this work and also sit on a number of Māori Advisory Boards, and I hope to bring my experience and learnings to my new team and connect them with this,” says Sgt Lawton.
He says his 10 years AOS experience is also an advantage to the O/C Feilding role.
“I see my Pouwhakataki and AOS experience as feathers in my cap. The experience I’ve gained in those roles allow me to bring all of my game in this new role – prevention and command and control environments. I love working with people and being part of a team and supporting them to be the best them that they can be.”
“It’s important to me to connect with my new team and find out about their aspirations. I want to learn as much as I can to support them and also further build on our local iwi and community partnerships.”
Sgt Lawton’s father, Manawatū Traffic Safety Group Supervisor Sergeant Grant Lawton and his paternal grandfather have been big influences in his life and Police career.
“I have a Tā Moko on one of my arms. There are two manaia (figures) depicted within the art. One represents my dad and the other is my Koro. Their influence and guidance has been invaluable to me,” said Sgt Lawton.
“Whānau is so important too. My wife and I are proud parents of eight children. [My wife] and our children are depicted in the Tā Moko on my other forearm.”
Ngāti Kauwhata spokesperson Dennis Emery said this was an auspicious occasion for their iwi and the local Feilding community, while acknowledging a new policing future ahead for Sgt Lawton and his team.
“We are delighted to a have tribal descendant holding such a key role in the community. When we reflect back to the efforts of the former Mayor Margaret Kouvelis and now current Mayor Helen Worboys’ joint efforts to have this O/C position back in Feilding, we believe it augurs well for us all and extend our congratulations to him,” says Mr Emery.
Sgt Lawton believes taking a whānau-centric approach is vital when connecting with iwi and communities, and said he feels very fortunate to have the likes of Sir Mason Durie right on the doorstep.
“What I love about my job is that it is always challenging me. I want the best for our people, iwi and the community and working alongside them in a mana-enhancing way is the key to this,” he said.