Wednesday, April 17, 2024

NZ Police honoured in King’s Birthday list

Three senior members of Police staff have been honoured for their services to New Zealand Police and the community.

Former Detective Sergeant and now non-constabulary specialist investigator from the Bay of Plenty District, Bruce Russell, has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM).

Sergeant Wally Kopae (pictured, main photo), from Southern District, is now a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

Both were nominated for honours by Police.

A community nomination saw Superintendent Rakesh Naidoo, from Police National Headquarters, made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to the New Zealand Police and ethnic communities. 

Their full citations details are:

Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) Bruce Ronald Russell.
For services to the New Zealand Police and the community.     
       

Mr Russell (pictured, below), Tauranga, joined the New Zealand Police in the early 1970s and has spent 47 years working in the Criminal Investigation Branch, conducting investigations across the spectrum of criminal offending.

In Hamilton in 1988, Mr Russell established the first child abuse/child sexual abuse investigation unit in the Waikato, building strong relationships with partner agencies. He established the first Waikato-based Proceeds of Crime Unit in New Zealand under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1992, leading ground-breaking investigation methodology and developing and delivering training to Police in Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Since 2009 he has since been a non-sworn Specialist Investigator, currently with the Tauranga-based unit of the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU). He has been a ‘go-to’ leader for serious and organised financial crime matters in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Police Districts, leading numerous successful operations tracking the proceeds of crime.

Since 2009, he has been officer-in-charge of restraining property pursuant to the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 with a value totalling more than $48 million. He was engaged by a joint Commonwealth Secretariat/United Nations initiative in a role across the Pacific Islands and later in the United Nations, involved in capacity building in financial crime investigations, the proceeds of crime and anti-money laundering from 2002 to 2006. Mr Russell developed and delivered training in developing countries globally.

Bruce says he was honoured to receive the award but wondered whether he should get it for “just doing my job”.

“It’s not about me,” he says. “For me, it’s about all the people I’ve worked with who have made it possible for all these things to happen.

“Over the years I’ve had some fantastic bosses who have given me the liberty to follow my instincts. I’ll be forever grateful to them – those people know who they are.”

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM)
Sergeant Walter Wallace (Wally) Kopae (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Whānau Ā Apanui)
For services to the New Zealand Police and the community

Sergeant Wally Kopae (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngāi te Rangi, Te Whānau ā Apanui) joined New Zealand Police in 1987 and from 1989 served with the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) for more than 30 years, based in Southland.

Sergeant Kopae has been a counsel for AOS leaders as well as Police canine training and development nationally. He is supervisor of the Invercargill/Southland Police Dog Section. He is one of six certifiers who evaluate dogs and handlers for deployment around the country and is on the National Working Group for the New Zealand Police Dog Section, setting policy and training initiatives.

He has trained dogs and handlers in specialist areas such as Search and Rescue and, outside of Police, in noxious weed detection. He has been deployed for international operations, including assisting the Solomon Islands Police Service from 2002 to 2003 and mentoring Afghan police trainers in Bamyan Province, Afghanistan in 2005. He is currently developing police patrol dog capability while deployed in Fiji.

He is well regarded for implementing a Te Ao Māori view within his policing, building relationships and connecting with whanaungatanga and use of Te Reo Māori to de-escalate situations.

Sergeant Kopae has been involved with cycling in Southland for 15 years as a competitor, managing Southland Road races, coaching the Police corporate pursuit team, and providing road safety support for the Westpac Chopper Appeal ride from Queenstown to Invercargill.

He says he is extremely humbled to receive royal recognition.

“Clearly a number of people have got together to make this nomination, and I accept it on behalf of Dog Section, Police and my family,” he says.

“I’m mindful that there are many people in our organisation who are just as deserving or probably more deserving – I could name them off the top of my head – but I’m very appreciative of this award.

“It’s my job and I love doing it.”

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM)
Superintendent Rakesh Sharanund Naidoo
For services to the New Zealand Police and ethnic communities

Superintendent Rakesh Naidoo (pictured, above) has been employed with the New Zealand Police for 21 years and has enhanced relationships between the Police and diverse communities.

In 2014, Superintendent Naidoo presented data on family harm highlighting the state of abuse in New Zealand; one in three women are abused, one in six boys are abused and in 2013 four out of fourteen women killed were of Indian descent.

He collaborated and supported the establishment of the organisation Gandhi Nivas to support clients in early intervention programmes to seek help.

He co-established an Advisory Board in collaboration with Massey University, which informed the need for holistic facilities for clients. There are currently three homes that provide holistic support to clients within the Tamaki Makaurau region, who have been served with a Police Safety Order.

He has supported the establishment of further services within other regions to help with family harm. Within the Police, he helped establish the organisation’s first five-year Ethnic Strategy and sits on several advisory panels and boards to support diverse communities.

Superintendent Naidoo has been the National Partnerships Manager – Ethnic within New Zealand Police since 2021, leading initiatives including involvement with the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch Terrorist Attack.

“New Zealand Police is only as strong as its partnership with communities. I am forever grateful for the dedicated, selfless colleagues and community representatives that I have the privilege to serve with. Your collective efforts have helped us build trust and confidence and care for our communities. It is these communities and colleagues, past and present, that I stand alongside and on the shoulders of, to receive this generous recognition.”

Commissioner Andrew Coster congratulated all the award winners.

“These outstanding officers represent the best in investigative, operational and community policing,” he said.

“They are humble about their achievements but have all made huge contributions, making a real difference for New Zealanders and providing inspiration for their colleagues to be their best.

“It’s fantastic to see them formally honoured at the highest level. I know all their colleagues will join me in congratulating them on this well-deserved recognition. We can all be very proud of their achievements.”

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