Saturday, June 15, 2024

Twin graduation for NZ’s newest cops

Fifty-nine new Police officers have celebrated their success with whānau and friends at the graduation of the 369 wing today.

Attending the ceremony was NZ Police Commissioner Andrew Coster; Minister of Police, Ginny Andersen and 369-wing patron, Dr Jarrod Gilbert.

The wing is made up of sporting elite, dedicated volunteers and a variety of recruits with extensive education, skills and qualifications ideal for policing in Aotearoa.

You’ll be forgiven for seeing double when out and about in Counties Manukau District where two proud American Samoan-born twin brothers will be working together very soon.

Wing 369 graduate Constable Simala Tupuono-Pepine will be based in the same district as his identical twin brother, Constable Leasuasu Tupuono-Pepine, who graduated from the 365 wing in May this year.  

Simala, a former personal trainer and carpenter says, “I’m honoured to be giving back to my community and I’m absolutely ready for this journey to start. It’s quite cool that both my brother and I are working for police now.”

Leasuasu says, “I’ve been busy since May learning the ropes and the job is going really great. Until I joined Police, no one in my family had been a police officer, but now there will be two of us. It’s a proud moment for our family.”

Constable Angela Swart is the Leadership Award winner and proudly received her award from the Commissioner of Police. 

“In June this year it was almost 20 years to the day of being recruited into the South African Police that I started in the New Zealand Police, which is pretty amazing,” she said.

Angela and her husband, a former South African Police officer, came to New Zealand six years ago and Angela did not hesitate to return to policing.

“No money, no title and no company can satisfy my need to serve and protect my community,” she says.

The Minister’s Award for Top of Wing after the collation of all course assessments was awarded to Constable Michael Kulikowski.

He was born in Poland but moved to the United Kingdom after graduating from university with a degree in commerce.

Before making New Zealand home four years ago he was a career firefighter in the UK.  Here in New Zealand, he’s volunteered for his local fire brigade, and also as an ambulance officer.

 “The Police attracted me through the idea that what I would be doing in my working life would be making an impact for the better and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to get started,” says Michael.

Constable Sean Berg is the second in wing award winner and received his prize from wing patron Dr Gilbert.

Sean has a Bachelor of Health Science degree in Physiotherapy, so it’s no surprise that Sean is passionate about his sport.

He says he’s keen to begin work, get out into the community and help make a difference.


Minister’s Award recognising top student and also the winner of the Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award – Constable Michael Kulikowski, Bay of Plenty District.

Patron’s Award for Second in Wing, recognising second top student Constable Sean Berg, Waitematā District.

Commissioner’s Award for Leadership – Constable Angela Swart, Counties Manukau District.

Driver Training and Road Policing Practice Award – Constable Joseph Blatch, Southern District.

Firearms Award – Constable Daniel Wootton, Canterbury District.


The entire wing will disperse to the following districts the week starting Monday 2 October:

Tāmaki Makaurau: Auckland City – 4, Counties Manukau – 11,  Waitematā – 6,

Northland – 2 Waikato – 6,  Bay of Plenty – 5, Eastern – 2, Central – 4, Wellington – 7, Canterbury – 6, Southern – 6.


28.8 percent are female, and 71.2 percent are male. New Zealand European make up 69.5 percent of the wing, with Māori 6.8 percent, Pasifika 11.9 percent and Asian 11.9

Patron: Dr Jarrod Gilbert

The wing’s patron, Dr Jarrod Gilbert, is the Director of Independent Research Solutions and a sociologist at the University of Canterbury.

He is New Zealand’s leading gang researcher, having conducted one of the most in-depth criminal ethnographies anywhere in the world.

He is the author of Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand.

He has led research teams on diverse topics including criminal desistance, alcohol-related harm, gang laws and dyslexia.

He is currently leading projects examining the history of murder in New Zealand, the effectiveness of a residential alcohol and drug treatment programme, an examination of the effect that gangs have within prisons, and an examination of the Government’s Transnational Organised Crime Strategy.

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