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Looking Back at the Police in New Zealand

MEDIA RELEASE 24 August 2005

Looking Back at the Police in New Zealand

Search and rescue, youth education, traffic control, vetting, dealing with e-crime, forensics - our society is increasingly dependent on a range of police initiatives and activities.

What makes the New Zealand Police what it is today? More than Law and Order: Policing a Changing Society 1945-1992, by Susan Butterworth follows the controversial history of the police through the second half of the twentieth century. The book traces a period of major change and modernisation within the organisation.

The New Zealand Police faced a number of challenges in the second half of the twentieth century. Society was changing rapidly, with growing urbanization, increasing multi-culturalism and changes in technology, transport and communications, as well as a growth in crime and rising public dissent. Keeping the peace required flexibility and good organisation.

Immediately after the Second World War, the police were in a sorry state. They were short on resources and antiquated in their systems. The police have overhauled their management structure repeatedly from the 1940s and often struggled to position themselves within the modern public sector. The book explores the evolution of the New Zealand Police and its relationship with the public up until the integration of the Police and Traffic Safety Service in the early 1990s.

More than Law and Order shows the police's experiences in many significant events in New Zealand history, including the 1951 waterfront strike, the Arthur Allan Thomas case, Erebus disaster and Springbok tour. It is the fifth volume in a series on policing in New Zealand commissioned by the New Zealand Police.

Susan Butterworth, a professional historian, is the author of several books ranging from a history of Shetland Islanders to local histories, and co-author of Reforming Education: The New Zealand Experience 1984-1996 (1998). She is available for interviews.


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