Tonga's NZ police chief finishing up
: A New Zealander who has headed Tonga's police for the past two and a half years is about to finish his term.
New Zealander Grant O'Fee who has led Tonga's police force for the past two and a half years is finishing up shortly.
It has been a challenging time to head the country's police but he says he is grateful to have had the experience.
GRANT O'FEE: I am really glad I have done it. I mean it has taught me things about - I mean I had never visited a Pacific island before I came here - other New Zealand. I have learnt a hell of a lot about Pacific people and learnt a lot about myself. It is a challenge. You'd be silly thinking coming up here that everything is going to be running like a sewing machine in a bath of oil. It certainly has its challenges with resourcing, with corruption, brutality, a level of dishonesty that I was not used to in the [New Zealand] police, so it certainly has its challenges but there are some first class officers up here, some very very good young people and it is just a long term - if I am honest I am a little disappointed in some of the things that we haven't achieved, but it is a long term and I think probably in a decade or 15 years we will start to see some real improvements but we just have to keep taking the little ones we have and accept that things aren't going to go exactly as we would like and dealing with the people who are indulging in corrupt or brutal behaviour and getting rid of them.
DON WISEMAN: New Zealand has had a long association in terms of assisting Tonga police but are they doing enough. You have talked about resourcing issues. Do Tongan police need more aid help?
GO'F: No I don't think we can say that and as we speak I am looking at a brand new garage that has been built by the Japanese. We get over four and a half million dollars from New Zealand and Australia in an excellent aid programme from the two nations and we have built four brand new police stations since I have been here, and we have continual training opportunities from Australia and New Zealand that we take maximum advantage of. So, no it is not just a dollars and cents thing, it is really a question of building up the leadership capability in the organisation. I mean we had 20 recruits graduate three months ago, ten men and ten women and I have spoken to them all, one on one, and they are absolutely first class fine young Tongan men and women. For the future the Tongan police is in good hands. We have just got to manage those young people and make sure that get the middle management leadership they deserve, and regrettably sometimes that doesn't happen.
DW: In terms of senior management, the last - yourself and your predecessor, both Kiwis. Is Tonga in a position where a Tongan can resume the leadership, in your view?
GO'F: Well that is the 64 thousand dollar question. They interviewed for the position a week ago and I don't know - I haven't been advised what the result of that interview is. I know that there were expats and Tongans interviewed but I was not involved in the process, so we are all awaiting that result. Without commenting on that situation I think there are, I know there are, people in Tonga, with a few years experience, will be first class in the role of commissioner. So I think the future looks bright.
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