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Craig Tickelpenny in the house

This month, the Police Association welcomes a familiar face to its national office with the appointment of Craig Tickelpenny to the new role of member welfare and engagement manager.

With nearly 28 years’ experience as a police officer, most recently as a senior sergeant and field learning and development manager for PNHQ and Service centres throughout New Zealand, Craig brings a wealth of operational and administrative policing knowledge to this core role.

He has already called on this experience as a director on the association’s board and, for the past six years, as one of two vice-presidents.

He is stepping down from the board and taking a secondment from Police to take up the new position, created after the retirement of welfare fund manager Pete Hayes earlier this year.

The transition to the association at this time feels right, Craig says. “In recent years, I’ve developed a focus on helping people. I’ve been doing that through my work and as an association rep, so moving into a permanent role to do that for members is a good fit.”

He’ll be responsible for the welfare side of the association’s activities, including Holiday Homes, Member Discounts, managing the member services team and being attuned to the needs of members who find themselves in difficult circumstances.

Craig was brought up in Te Awamutu, where his father worked as a plumber and gasfitter at Waikeria Prison and his mother was a schoolteacher. On leaving school Craig completed a plumbing and gas fitting apprenticeship before applying to join Police, but a series of cancelled recruit intakes during the late 1980s meant he had to wait.

During the hiatus, he took off to London, where he qualified as a cellarman and bar manager with Youngs Brewery. With that well-rounded experience behind him, he returned to New Zealand when the Police intakes resumed and joined in 1992, with his hometown being his first posting.

Various jobs around Waikato followed over the next six years, including relieving in Coromandel, Kāwhia, Huntly and Matamata, until he transferred to Hamilton East. He had intended to join CIB but was “enticed” into team policing and frontline work for three years.

That was followed with a field intel position, which involved dealing with the gangs in Western Waikato for about 18 months until he and his wife, Sarah, also a police officer, moved to Granity on the West Coast with their infant daughter, Emma.

Craig was the sole-charge cop, but, as it turned out, the locals made more fuss about Sarah, “because she was the first female cop in the Buller”, and she featured in a story in the local paper.

Craig joined the local association committee and, after a series of unexpected resignations, ended up becoming the conference delegate and chairperson after only four months.

It didn’t put him off, though, and he remained committed to building up the West Coast committee, which covered Westport where he worked as a sergeant and then relieved as sub-area commander for five years.

In 2007, the family moved to Sarah’s home turf of Wellington. Craig became a section sergeant in Upper Hutt, but in 2008 was approached to take up a secondment to the Police Association as an industrial officer (a regular arrangement with Police that was discontinued in 2014). The intended one-year stint turned into three, and then it was back to the Hutt as a relieving senior for six months.

In 2011, after an association post-earthquake welfare role in Christchurch, he was promoted and went to the Police College to facilitate promotion courses in the School of Leadership, Management and Command. It was there, he says, that he found he had passion for “people development”. As a result, he became a well-known face to many in Police, with more than 2000 staff going through promotion courses.

Since 2019, Craig has worked on signification operations, such as Operation Deans in Christchurch, White Island and, most recently, the Multi-Agency Covid-19 response team. He also relieved as the national manager of field learning and development. Sarah is a tactical options trainer and team leader at the college.

Craig’s association committee experience led him to successfully seeking a director’s role in the Wellington region in 2011 and then being elected as vice-president in 2014.

In 2016, he campaigned unsuccessfully for the presidency, but remained as vice-president to support Chris Cahill when he secured the role. “We have built up a great working relationship, a reason I decided to apply for this role. I’m looking forward to being able to fully focus on the wellbeing of police and their families.”

Craig starts at the association on September 7.

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