Waikato Times

Ardern heads back to Niue as a diplomat

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Uniform traded in for a suit as distinguis­hed police career comes to end after 40 years Former Piako Police leader Ross Ardern is the first serving New Zealand officer appointed to a diplomatic position.

In February he will return to Niue, where he was chief of police for four years, to take up the post of high commission­er.

For the past four years Mr Ardern has been police liaison officer to the Pacific and South West Pacific, based in Samoa.

The opportunit­y to become high commission­er was not to be missed.

‘‘The sad part is leaving police after 40 years,’’ said Mr Ardern. ‘‘But such opportunit­ies don’t come often.’’

He and wife Laurell – the parents of Labour MP Jacinda Ardern – enjoyed their previous time in Niue. ‘‘It’s more than the island itself, it’s the people of Niue. They’ve been through any number of ordeals, like Cyclone Heta in 2004, and recovered. They’re as resilient as you can imagine.’’

Mr Ardern said he was looking forward to returning to Niue and working with the Government officials there.

‘‘Niue has a real focus on tourism now and I have always considered the island to be the last undiscover­ed gem of the Pacific – but it is now getting discovered by more and more tourists who want to leave the winters behind and enjoy the lifestyle that Niue offers them.’’

His priorities will include helping Niue develop its fledgling tourism industry, and maintain and improve services such as health and road.

‘‘I’ll be glad to not have anything to do with policing,’’ he said. ‘‘New

Former Piako police leader Ross Ardern will take up the post of New Zealand High Commission­er to Niue. Photo: Supplied Zealand provided Niue’s chief of police for a long time. I’m delighted it’s now in the hands of a Niuean, Tonyata Edwards.’’

He’s convinced he won’t be the last police officer to move to high diplomatic office.

‘‘Policing used to be totally about law enforcemen­t – arrest, charge, process through the courts. Now it’s about problem solving.

‘‘Prevention requires diplomatic skills. Other organisati­ons recognise the skills police have – they see a police officer and think ‘They’ve got something special’.’’

Mr Ardern entered the police training school at Trentham in January 1974.

Most of his career was in the Waikato, including about 20 years in CIB and five years in charge of Matamata-Piako.

In 2002 Mr Ardern received a Police Commission­er’s Commendati­on after he negotiated for three hours with a man armed with a machete in an incident in Morrinsvil­le’s main street. The stand-off ended peacefully.

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