Recent Police graduate Constable Ramandeep Kaur Sandhu is breaking ground as Hawke's Bay's first Indian-born female police officer.
Earlier in March, she was formally welcomed at a mihi whakatau, following a two-year-long study and recruitment process.
Raman, 28, was born and raised in Punjab and moved to Hawke's Bay in 2012. She says her first years in New Zealand - acclimatising herself to new people, culture, and lifestyle - were challenging.
Working different jobs in orchards, hospitality, and customer service was a good start but didn't quite fulfil her.
"I have always been interested in the investigative side of police work, so joining Police seemed like an obvious career to pursue," she says.
"I also found out there were no Indian female police officers in Hawke's Bay. Yet, I had no idea where to start."
Constable Ramandeep Kaur Sandhu with her EIT tutor Andrew McCrory (Photo: NZ Police)
As she weighed her options, she learned about the Services Pathway programme run by the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) in Hawke's Bay. It seemed like the ideal first step to achieve her dream of joining the Police force.
Raman says she had a great experience at EIT. The programme helped her with her application to join Police, and tutor Andrew McCrory's guidance throughout the journey made all the difference.
At the mihi whakatau at Hastings Central Police Station, Raman spoke about her journey: "I want to make my family proud to see me in my blue uniform as no one in the history of my family has ever done something as big and splendid as getting into New Zealand Police."
Eastern District Commander Superintendent Jeanette Park says the team is delighted to have Raman join them. "She is the first Indian woman police officer in the region, and I am sure her ability to speak three languages - Punjabi, Hindi and English - will be extremely useful," she says.
"We welcome diversity within Police as we are aiming for a constabulary workforce diverse in ethnicity and gender that reflects our communities. We have set ambitious recruitment targets nationwide to meet our desired workforce profile.
"Raman completed the EIT Services Pathway programme before joining Police, and we have a number of current staff who have done the same. This is a valuable course for us to have available to people in the region."
Raman says there are many Indians in the Hawke's Bay community - and she feels she will be able to connect, gain their trust, and help make them feel safe. "I want to be there for the wider community. I would love to make a positive difference in every aspect of people's lives wherever I can.
"I want to be the best possible version of myself but also inspire more females from diverse backgrounds to join the Police force."