First-ever Māori district commander for Rotorua hits the beat
Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi has invited rival gang leaders from Black Power and the Mongrel Mob to a hui to work together in helping ease gang tensions.
Pewhairangi is the new Area Commander for Rotorua, and first of Māori descent to hold that title.
"It excites me to work with our community to make Rotorua the safest place, to make New Zealand the safest country. Those are really lofty aspirational goals. That's what I'm committed to," says Mr Pewhairangi.
Rotorua has some of the highest rates of imprisonment and reoffending in the country and Mr Pewhairangi faces a huge challenge in his new role.
The forty-four-year-old joined the police force in 2002, and in 15 years the former school teacher has risen up the ranks.
"We have got to represent the communities that we serve, so by having a very visible and very capable Māori leader within the police will do great things for trying to break down those things that we're trying to solve," says Police Commissioner Mike Bush.
There's been a push for frontline staff to better represent their communities, and newly promoted Assistant Commissioner and deputy chief executive for Māori, Superintendent Wallace Haumaha, wants to help transform the culture within the New Zealand Police.
"Given that over 70 percent of our apprehensions are Māori in Rotorua, I think the timing for him to be here as the leaders to look at innovative practices is really good for Rotorua," says Mr Haumaha.
Mr Pewhairangi was raised in Stokes Valley, the youngest of nine. He's fluent in Te Reo Māori, and grew up strong in his tribal identity.
"I was born as a boy of Ngati Porou, Tuwharetoa, Rangiteaorere descent. For me I think back to how I was raised. It's the village mentality - is how do we create a village mentality where everyone is looking out for everyone and for the police here? We're one part of the community," says Mr Pewhairangi.