Texts between Police Minister Mark Mitchell and Commissioner Andrew Coster revealed

  • 09/02/2024

Police Minister Mark Mitchell received a congratulatory text from New Zealand's top cop after last year's election despite the criticism directed at senior police leadership while National was in Opposition. 

Communications between Mitchell and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, first reported by the NZ Herald, have been released to Newshub. 

In one text message, sent to Mitchell on November 24 - the day Prime Minister Christopher Luxon unveiled his Cabinet and ministerial appointments - Cmmr Coster suggested he was looking forward to linking up with the new Police Minister. 

"Congratulations, Minister! I'll [be] looking forward to working with you as Minister of Police and connecting soon," Cmmr Coster said in the message. "King regards Andy." 

"Thanks Andy will see you soon. Kind Regards, Mark," Mitchell responded. 

The next day, Mitchell told Coster in another text he was "watching this gang funeral for William Hines closely". 

About 1000 people gathered in the Manawatū town of Foxton in November for the tangi of Hines, a senior Head Hunters member. 

"Yes, we have a robust plan in place for the funeral," Cmmr Coster said. 

No significant issues were reported at the funeral.  

Less than a month later, the pair were wishing each other a Merry Christmas. 

"Wishing you and your family and [sic] very Merry Christmas Andy," said Mitchell.

"Thanks Minister. And also to you and yours," replied Cmmr Coster. "I hope you're enjoying some good downtime. Cheers Andy." 

In the released texts, dated from November 24 to January 2, there were several back-and-forth exchanges about operational matters - much of which was redacted. 

Mitchell offered praise to Cmmr Coster on a couple of occasions, including for police's work cracking down on an illegal street racing gathering in Waikato on December 10. 

The Minister also described an operation in Whakātane as "outstanding policing". 

Mitchell told the Herald the pair had a "positive and constructive relationship". 

"That's built on a shared commitment to strengthen our police force, reduce crime and put public safety first." 

Cmmr Coster said he'd already worked "successfully" with Mitchell when he was Associate Justice Minister from 2016 to 2017. 

"Our meetings to date have been very constructive and productive," Cmmr Coster said in a statement to the Herald.

"We share many of the same concerns about crime and people's feelings of safety." 

In December, Mitchell took the unusual step of writing a letter setting out his expectations of Cmmr Coster. 

Mitchell later clarified he had "full confidence" in Cmmr Coster and said he wanted to put any history he had with the Commissioner behind him. 

Cmmr Coster has been the Police Commissioner since 2020.