Māori, female and qualified - but the police don't want her

Nen Tulloch hails from the milling town of Kawerau and has always dreamed of becoming a community cop.

As part of the coalition agreement, the Government is recruiting 1800 new police - and it wants a force that is diverse and community-focused.

It's got work to do. Currently just 12.3 percent of sworn officers are Māori and only 19 percent of the force are women.

But despite being everything the force is looking for, Ms Tulloch has been turned away not once, but twice.

First application

She first applied in 2014 and a year later was on her way to joining the force.

Despite being in her early 40s, she sailed through the fitness test and aced the academic requirements. She was almost accepted - all that was left was an on-the-job training test led by officers from the Whakatane Police Station.

The exercise is known as 'Scope'.

"Scope is when you go out with the police and you do four shifts," says Ms Tulloch.

Documents she received following Scope show she was recommended, but eight weeks later she received a call saying her application had been denied. Ms Tulloch says a recruitment officer told her she didn't meet the core values of the New Zealand Police.

The core values include commitment to integrity, professionalism, respect, diversity, Māori and the Treaty.

"I live up to those values in my personal life, so it's not hard to live up to them for the police."

Nen Tulloch.
Nen Tulloch. Photo credit: The Hui

 We asked Ms Tulloch if she had any criminal convictions for drugs, drink driving, violence or fraud but she said she had no problems there - but she did run into an issue with one officer while on Scope.

"The policeman was new - he was on probation at the time."

She said she didn't strike up a very good rapport with him, and when they were out on the job they stopped to patrol a local pub where she ran into family members.

"My nephew came up and said hi, and said, "Arrest me aunty, arrest me,' and this guy turns around and says, 'I'm going to arrest him,' and I said what? He's just having a laugh.

"I thought, wow. So, I ask another person because I didn't want someone getting arrested, and that officer said no, 'We're not going to arrest him,' and that guy took offence."

Chance meeting results in second chance

Documentation shows Ms Tulloch's Scope training began on August 13, 2015. A day later she received an email from police confirming she'd been selected to enrol for Police College.

Then eight weeks later her dream was shattered. She was called up to say her application had been declined and it was over.

She applied for a review and waited with bated breath. She'd all but given up, but a chance meeting with Wallace Haumaha, the deputy chief executive Māori, turned things around.

He told The Hui he would order a national review of her case and bring in a commissioned officer to re-interview her.

Eighteen months, later Ms Tulloch was interviewed by the police - but that same week she was sent a letter saying the decision to decline her original application would stand.

She has never been provided with the report explaining why she was not suitable for police. She was only told unofficially she didn't meet the core values.

She signed a privacy waiver and gave The Hui permission to ask questions on her behalf. Ms Tulloch said regardless of whether the answers where good or bad, it was important for her to know so she could move forward.

Wallace Haumaha
Wallace Haumaha. Photo credit: The Hui

But despite inviting The Hui to police national headquarters, head of people Kay Ryan and Mr Haumaha hadn't read Ms Tulloch's file and couldn't say why she didn't meet the core values of the New Zealand Police.

Mr Haumaha, who ordered the review in 2016 of Ms Tulloch's case, said sometimes people just weren't right for the police - but 19 percent of Māori women who had applied had made it through.

Ms Tulloch has been told she had red flags raised against her name, but Mr Haumaha said that wouldn't necessarily prevent her from making the cut.

Ms Ryan told The Hui that she would consider releasing Ms Tulloch's report in accordance with the Privacy Act, but later sent an email saying the report would be withheld as it was evaluative material.

Social media concerns

While Ms Tulloch still hasn't read or received her initial report, in December last year she did receive a letter which explained why her review was unsuccessful. In the letter, police raised concerns about Ms Tulloch's activities and associations on social and print media.

A search of Ms Tulloch's Facebook page shows her responding and engaging with friends who had left comments - not all were positive towards police. But The Hui couldn't find any inappropriate posting by Ms Tulloch herself.

What's worth noting is the social media concern raised by police was about the media attention at the end of 2016 - an entire year after her application was rejected.

New Zealand Police are continuing the search for 1800 new cops, but Ms Tulloch won't be one of them.

The Hui