Couple in blue to hit frontline

Constables Zane Elliman and Brittany Whelan are Dunedin's newest police recruits. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A Dunedin couple are the city’s newest police officers.

Constables Zane Elliman and Brittany Whelan said the two-and-a-half-year wait to become police officers was worth it.

Const Elliman said his wait could have been shorter if he had accepted a post in Auckland.

“But I really like Dunedin.”

Constable Whelan said they never planned to attend Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua at the same time.

“It just panned out that way.”

When police signalled their expected wait time to attend the college, the couple decided to travel for six months – taking breaks from their jobs – Const Elliman as a Coca-Cola territory sales manager in Dunedin and Const Whelan as a kindergarten teacher in Milton.

Their travels included working at Camp America in Maine and a four-week tour of Europe.

They both started training at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua in early March and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Due to it being more difficult for South Islanders to get home, they stayed up north longer, put to work responding to “105 emails”, most of which were informing police about people not abiding by the lockdown rules so police could be deployed.

“There were thousands of them,” Const Elliman said.

During lockdown they returned to Dunedin and completed online classes at home for about a month.

The couple then returned to college and graduated in Porirua at the end of last month.

At the ceremony, the 38 graduating police officers honoured slain police officer Constable Matthew Hunt (28) by wearing huia pins and performing a haka.

Const Elliman said the nerves were brimming when the haka rehearsals began a week before the ceremony.

“I thought ‘Wow, how are we going to do this?’ but everyone from the wing rallied around and it just started flowing.”

The couple started work in Dunedin earlier this month, he said.

“It’s been pretty full-on. You learn a lot at college but you continue to learn out of college.”

They would officially join the frontline next month.

Const Elliman encouraged anyone wanting to be a police officer to wait for the opportunity.

“Don’t give up – it’s worth the wait. You won’t look back.”