In Safe Hands

October 2, 2017

Lecturer Murray Stewart in his younger days as a Police Dog Handler with his dog Baron. This photograph was taken in the ‘90s on an AOS training exercise at Nuhaka.

EIT Tairāwhiti’s newest programme is in extremely safe, capable and experienced hands with newly appointed lecturer Murray Stewart. 

The right man for the job is how one might describe EIT’s new Certificate in Preparation for Law Enforcement Lecturer, retired Sergeant Murray Stewart. The Certificate is a 17 week programme that aims to prepare students for the Royal New Zealand Police College, entry into the Defence Forces, security or corrections positions. The programme has been designed in conjunction with EIT and Gisborne Police.

Murray is two months out from a 36 year career with the Police force, now his involvement is as EIT’s newest lecturer.

Born in Scotland and raised primarily in Wairarapa, Murray eventually settled in Tauranga with his wife and two young children at the time – son Angus is now a Police Sergeant in Lower Hutt, while daughter Sarah is the Manawatu Area Commander.

He says he had always wanted to be a Police Officer, but was initially denied entry into Police College as an 18-year-old, after failing a spelling test. Undeterred, Murray became involved with Tauranga Civil Defence, which eventually led him back to Policing. He was transferred to Gisborne nearly 36 years ago and never left – enjoying an impressive and varied career within the force.

“I can’t say that I loved every second of it, but just about. There is so much positive stuff about policing; making people feel safe, ensuring people that commit crimes are held to account, it’s well paid and it’s like a family – once you know people in the force, you know them for the rest of your life.”

Throughout his career on the East Coast, Murray has relieved in Ruatoria, Tokomaru and Tolaga Bay and was a part of the Gisborne Police squad tasked with managing the 1981 Springbok Tour.  As a member of the local Armed Offenders Squad, he served first as a Dog Handler, before progressing to Section Leader and then Gisborne AOS Commander.

“We were very busy in those days, it was full on – there was a job nearly every 10 days. I loved being a part of the AOS but it’s really a younger person’s job.

“When I was eventually past lying in the wet grass and jumping over huge fences in the middle of the night, I transitioned into the Gisborne Police Negotiating Team as the Commander.”

In his negotiator role, Murray’s team was the last to speak to Jan Molenaar during the 2009 Napier shootings, where four Police and one civilian were shot – Senior Constable Len Snee fatally. “Towards the end of my career I tutored the Police negotiating courses at Police College. Being quite passionate about the Police, I really wanted the EIT course to go ahead, so here I am,” says Murray.


There are 12 students enrolled in the first ever round of the new EIT Tairāwhiti Certificate and Murray expects all 12 to be dressed in blue next year. “Like any training or education, students have to push themselves that little bit extra, but we will give them as many skills and help as much as we possibly can. I would encourage anybody to come to the next course in 2018, so they have the best chance of passing the Police College entry test.

“Being a member of the Police is such a great career. If I could go back and do it all again – I would.”