Inspector Fiona Prestidge at her farewell. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED
A trailblazing New Zealand policewoman credited her time spent in rural Wairarapa as the key to more than 30 years of success in the police.
After 34 years of service, Inspector Fiona Prestidge left the force with a farewell ceremony at Police National Headquarters on Friday.
Prestidge was one of just four women among the 100 members of Recruit Wing 96 when she graduated in 1985 at the age of 19.
While it was difficult to pick highlights from her career, she said her posting to the two-person Featherston station was a significant time.
She was the first woman appointed to a one- or two-person station – a high-profile appointment given her gender, relative youth at 22, and the fact that she replaced an officer whose garage had been blown up by a bomb.
Working alone and on-call, covering a huge rural area challenged her.
“That’s when I knew that I could be a good cop,” she said.
“It set me up for my success in my career. I proved to myself what I could achieve.”
She continued her path as a female police pioneer, when she became the first female sergeant appointed in Waitakere District in 1994, and then first female senior sergeant in New Plymouth.
In 2006 she was the first mother to be appointed a commissioned officer when she became the New Plymouth Area Commander.
“I’ve been deeply committed to police and all it aims to be – I’ve loved my whole career,” she said, adding it was not bad for someone who only thought they’d spend five years in the job.