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Commissioner Congratulates Police Honours Recipients

Commissioner Andrew Coster has congratulated two Police recipients of awards in the 2024 New Year Honours.

Former Detective Inspector Craig Hamilton, now working on contract with the Financial Crime Group after retiring from Police in September, is made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM).

Senior Sergeant Karl Wilson, of Tāmaki Makaurau Forensic Imaging, becomes a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

“I congratulate Craig and Karl on these thoroughly well-deserved honours,” says Commissioner Coster.

“They are both superb innovators who have transformed the way we do business in their respective areas of policing, without ever losing sight of the interests of victims and our communities.

“I’m delighted to see their immense contributions recognised at the highest level.”

Also honoured is Aaron Nicholson, who was officer in charge of Wanaka Police Station and Police Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator in Wanaka from 2000 until his retirement from Police in 2018. He has remained a leading light in LandSAR locally.

“It’s great to see Aaron recognised for his key leadership role in Southern District SAR, which led to many successful rescues and the development of a vital rescue capability for the Otago Lakes area,” says Commissioner Coster.

Former detective Inspector Craig Hamilton, honoured for services to New Zealand Police and the community, is recognised nationally and internationally as an authority in asset recovery, his specialisation for more than two decades.

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He led asset recovery work in his home district Waikato, before managing asset recovery activities across New Zealand. His national contributions included significant input to the development of the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 (CPRA).

In 2014 he became one of the first recipients of the Police Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his leadership and expertise in asset recovery.

He says the latest award was very much unexpected.

“This is a real honour for me and my family,” he says. “I’ve had an amazing experience in my policing career – it’s been absolutely fantastic and very rewarding.”

He says much credit for his achievements goes to the people he has worked with.

“I feel really privileged to have worked with some wonderful people over the years and I’m grateful for the opportunities that Police has given me.

“It’s an amazing organisation full of amazing people.”

Senior Sergeant Karl Wilson, Tāmaki Makaurau Forensic Photography and Reprographics Manager, is recognised for services to New Zealand Police, disaster victim identification and Search and Rescue.

He joined the forensic photography team in 1998 and took his skills into the disaster victim identification (DVI) field in 2004.

It was when he was rotated to Thailand to join the DVI effort after the 2004 tsunami - with a film camera - that he recognised the value of digital photography and became a leader in its introduction to New Zealand Police.

He was a consultant to the Pike River re-entry and developed equipment and processes to enable high-resolution photography inside the sealed mine.

He says finding out about the honour was “pretty mind blowing”.

“It’s amazing,” he says. “It’s hard to get your head around the fact that you’ve been recognised for your work at such a level.

“This is also recognition for some of the people I’ve worked with. In both DVI and photography it’s not just me – I’m just one person in a team, which is the reason I’ve been able to do what I’ve done over such a long period.”

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