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Minister Opens Highest Police Station In The Country

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Police Minister Judith Collins officially opened the new National Park police station yesterday (Thursday, 5 November); the highest elevated police station in the country at an altitude of over 800m.

National Park benefited from its first police station in 1938 under the command of Constable Richard Wilkes. Prior to that date it had been policed by the Raurimu constable but a growth in the ski industry and the number of mountain searches for lost and injured began to take its toll.

By 1965 tourism in the area was booming and there was the occasional tendency for 'guests' from the nearby minimum security prison to go absent without leave, so National Park became a two-person police station and remains so today.

The office that has served as the station throughout the years has now been replaced with a $195,000 facility that includes a holding cell, community meeting room, toilet facility, storage for search and rescue equipment and facilities for fingerprinting and testing for excess blood alcohol.

An historical feature that remains however is the sign in the window with an arrow which points towards the house of the officer who is the duty constable on any given day.

At an official ceremony yesterday Police Minister Judith Collins was joined by a number of distinguished guests including Police Commissioner Howard Broad, Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Michael Player and Ruapehu District Mayor Sue Morris.

After District Commander Superintendent Russell Gibson recapped on some of the high profile events faced by the area, including the eruption of 1995, the lahar of 2007 and last year's Mangatepopo canyoning tragedy, Police Minister Judith Collins spoke of the "remote and unforgiving" landscape and the "incredible forces of nature that can act without warning".

She said: "What can be a playground one moment, can be a disaster zone the next. To say it is a challenging environment for Police is an understatement.

"It's absolutely vital that the police are well equipped to deal with such events when they occur, which is why it gives me such great pride to open this new police station today."

Area Commander Inspector Steve Mastrovich also spoke at the event remembering the 10 years he himself served at National Park, leaving in 2001 on promotion.

Local members of the community turned out for the opening including those instrumental in making the project happen; and a number of children from National Park School with their teachers. Also present was Jim Gosman who served as a constable at National Park for 16 years before retiring from New Zealand Police in 1991.

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