The police lent officers' uniforms to the musician Tiki Taane for a performance at the New Zealand music awards in Auckland.
Earlier this year Taane was arrested in a Tauranga night club after singing an anti-police rap song, but the disorderly behaviour charge was later dropped.
Taane took to the stage at the Vector Arena on Thursday night with four dancers dressed as police officers.
He said he asked for police officers to participate in the performance, and they were initially keen, but the request was eventually declined.
"The police cannot be seen as endorsing a brand, and I apparently am a brand. I've got my own merchandise, my own clothing label, that kind of stuff. So they said 'we can't do it, but here's some uniforms, go and do your thing'," said Taane who won the best male solo artist gong.
Taane said it would have been a good PR exercise for the police and "cool for me, and it'll finally put it to rest," a presumed reference to the incident in Tauranga.
The police say they provide uniforms for filming or theatrical purposes and consider requests on a case-by-case basis.
At the awards ceremony, singer Brooke Fraser and indie band The Naked and Famous both won five awards.
The New Zealand Herald Legacy Award went to rockers Dragon, best known for the 1977 hit April Sun in Cuba.