Memories of Bastion Point at Policewomen's celebration

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Auckland

Seventy-five years ago today the first women police recruits joined the New Zealand force. A celebratory event was held in Auckland to acknowledge the contribution of our policewomen, with one retired officer sharing her experience of the occupation at Bastion Point.

On display today were the uniforms female police officers have worn since the 1940s.

Active Policewomen wearing the uniforms told Te Kāea what they think;

“I'd say the new one’s a lot more practical," says an officer modelling the 1940's attire.
"I wouldn't be able to do the job I do today wearing a dress - and my handbag,” 
Another says "I think it speaks for itself really, I wouldn't be able to run in this mini skirt, to be honest."

Former Sergeant Pauline Joblin joined the Police in 1943 and shared her experience of the occupation at Bastion Point.

"I was quite apprehensive I thought it was quite scary what we were having to do,” she says.
“I don't know that I altogether agreed with it but when you're in the police you have to be disciplined about these things."

She has vivid memories of the protests.

"Often you wouldn't know how long you would be working before you got fed, and I always made a habit of having a barley sugar or something in my pocket,” says Joblin.
“These two little children came up and so I gave them a lolly, and the younger one, which would have been about maybe three-years-old, had the lolly and bent down and got some gravel and wrapped it up in a paper and I said, 'what are you going to do with that?' and she said to me 'I'm going to throw it with a gun at the cops'."

Even though she did not agree with the police action at Bastion Point, Joblin says she was following orders.

"I shouldn't say this but I think since I've retired I look back and there were occasions I think that perhaps their grievance was real,” she says.
“I think the main thing is that the police have to continue to have dialogue and I think they're really trying really hard to do that over recent years, and with recruiting Māori police that can only be a good thing."

She sees only positive outcomes from having more Māori police recruits in New Zealand.