New Police Commissioner Andrew Coster chosen over veteran frontrunner who was under investigation

The new Police Commissioner has been appointed over a veteran officer and frontrunner who Newshub revealed last week was being investigated by the police watchdog.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Andrew Coster is taking over from the current Police Commissioner Mike Bush, chosen over fellow Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement who was widely tipped as the frontrunner.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the appointment on Monday, telling reporters she predicts Coster to lead a "team of 13,000 people across the country with positivity, inclusion and integrity".  

Newshub asked the Prime Minister why Coster was chosen over Clement, and she said: "Ultimately, this is a decision where I'm going to reflect on the candidate that was chosen; however, what I will say is that Mike Clement is an outstanding police officer."

Clement is far more experienced than Coster, with 42 years in the force. He is also more well-known, as the voice of police through the gun buy-back and Whakaari/White Island disaster.

But last week, Newshub revealed Clement was also being investigated by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), the police watchdog.

Ardern said the investigation wasn't a factor in the recruitment process, telling Newshub it had "no bearing".

When the IPCA investigated Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha over bullying allegations last year the report was made public.

But although the investigation into Clement over intervening in an appointment process is complete, his report is being kept secret.

The State Services Commission runs the Police Commission job hunt. Cabinet papers show it recommended just one name to the Prime Minister: Andrew Coster. But ultimately, it was up to Ardern to decide.

"I first met Andy in his role in Central Auckland," Ardern said.

"I've had the opportunity to see him work on policy issues such as recent gun law reforms, but most of all I've observed his passion for a police force that knows its strength lies in what it can achieve with the community it serves."

Coster has been with police nearly 25 years in investigative and management roles.

The appointment is being welcomed by the police, and now Coster just needs to get the team of 13,000 people behind him.

Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

The Police Commissioner role is highly sought after. The appointment process has taken about six months.

It's been hugely political - like a season of Netflix's House of Cards - leaks and counter-leaks to the media to try and undermine the key players.

Andy Coster is widely respected, but police are police - the politics won't end now, even with his five-year appointment locked in.

A serious hazing period is likely starting now.