Inspector Paula Enoka QSM has been officially welcomed as Otago Lakes Central Area Commander – and Southern District’s first female Area Commander – at a heartfelt pōwhiri in Alexandra on Friday.
Describing the pōwhiri as an emotional experience, Paula says she’s humbled by the support from her team, the community, her family and friends – and watching her three young nephews perform a haka to support her made her very proud as an aunty.
“I could feel the passion, the aroha, the love from everyone in the room, and especially our iwi partners,” she said.
“Like the korowai I wear, the iwi have put their arms around me.”
Having already started her duties as the new Otago Lakes Central Area Commander earlier this month, Paula says she’s excited about what’s to come.
“Being the first wahine Area Commander of Otago Lakes Central in Southern District is definitely not the goal, it’s part of the journey,” she said.
“I want to connect in with the community. I want them to know that when they see me and they talk to me, that I am here for them and I am here for my team.
“The goal for me is to be my best, bring my best to work, and in doing so my team can bring their best and be the best for what we are trying to achieve as Police.”
Paula (Ngāti Whatua Iwi, Te Uri o Hau hapu) holds a BCom in Management from Auckland University and is also a former New Zealand representative in hockey, playing for the Black Sticks at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
She joined Police in 2001, working in Wellington before a move to Waitematā District, where she progressed through workgroups including Public Safety Teams, Road Policing, Burglary Targeting Team, Investigations and also as Iwi Liaison Officer.
During this time, Paula also spent 12 months in Timor Leste as a Detention Centre Commander, from October 2006 to October 2007. Paula’s arrival was in the wake of significant conflict between the Timor Leste Police and the military, and the killing of eight police officers. She credits this deployment as a formative experience in her career.
Paula subsequently featured in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her work in Timor Leste, receiving the Queen’s Service Medal. Her performance in assuming a high level of responsibility in an area of policing that was critically important to establishing and maintaining stability in the region was noted as being a credit to New Zealand.