Incoming Police Commissioner Andrew Coster's experience outside police 'important' - Chris Cahill

Andrew Coster's appointment as New Zealand's next Police Commissioner is being welcomed by the Police Association, who say he will have to confront "significant challenges". 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that Coster would succeed Mike Bush as the country's top cop, ending an extensive application and decision process. 

Coster, who began as a police recruit in 1996, has worked in various policing units in his nearly 25-year career, including in investigative roles, as Auckland City Central's Area Commander, and most recently as the acting deputy commissioner of strategy and partnerships.

But he has also worked outside of police, as a solicitor at Meredith Connell, the Office of the Crown Solicitor in Auckland, and as the deputy chief executive of the Ministry of Justice.

The Police Association's president Chris Cahill says that variety of work will serve him well.

"We certainly look forward to working with him. Andy has got a broad depth of experience, right across different roles in policing and he has had a period of time outside of police working in the Justice Department, so all that will hold him in good stead," Cahill told Newshub.

"It gives another perspective, both of how to run a department, but also how to work with other Government agencies. That's a really important part of a top leadership role."

Cahill knows Coster well and described him as a "personable guy" who is a great listener and communicator.

"He will need that, because there are certainly significant challenges within police, both internally and externally," Cahill said.

Among the external challenges is dealing with organised crime, something brought to the fore by recent tensions in Tauranga and a rise in the trade of methamphetamine. Internally, there are around 2000 new police staff that will require mentoring.

Cahill said Coster being younger than other candidates may have benefitted him as he is  "more of the future of police", but said the others were all experienced, outstanding members of the force. 

"There was a number of really good candidates… they were all capable. They should be proud that they got this far and they have all shown outstanding leadership in the New Zealand Police. Someone has to win, and it's disappointing, but I am sure Andy will have their full support."

The Commissioner of Police is appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and the recruitment process was managed by the State Services Commission. 

Ardern said on Monday: "Andrew takes up this leadership role at a time when the Government is making our communities safer by adding 2000 new police officers to the frontline and reforming gun laws to stop firearms from falling into the wrong hands.

"I know he’ll lead a team of 13,000 people across the country with positivity, inclusion and integrity."

Bush welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement and said it was his "privilege" to have led New Zealand police for the past six years.

Bush's term ends on April 2 of this year. Coster has been appointed for a five-year term from April 3.