International student joins NZ Police

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Torika Dredregasa came to New Zealand in 2011, as an international student to pursue a diploma in Business from Aspire2 International (then known as Ntec). Nine years later, last month, she graduated to join the New Zealand Police.

She is the second oldest of 2 brothers and 2 sisters. While the other three went the family way, at 35 Torika became the first in her family to join the police force. 

Her plan to come to NZ, from Fiji, was just an excuse to travel and see more of the world. Her parents travelled to Australia and so she wanted to travel as well. She saw this as an opportunity to broaden her horizons. 

In Auckland, she was staying with her cousin, who wanted to become a police officer and so had registered to attend a seminar at  Unitec on how to enter the police service. 

“It’s part of the Unitec Pasifika programme,” says Torika. “At the last moment, my cousin backed out and I stepped in to fill her spot. That’s how I attended the seminar and met a few police officers. The seminar changed me.”

What was your motivation?

“I am a helpful person by nature. But If I helped someone, people questioned, because of my gender. Over the years, I realised that if you are in uniform, no one questions your intentions,” explains Torika.

She sat for the entrance exams and was unsuccessful in her first attempt. But she didn’t give up. She considers herself blessed to be surrounded by supportive forces.

“Every time a police car passed by, my family would remind me of my dream,” she says.

Torika decided to sit for the test the second time – and prepared much harder for it. “A lot of people helped me in my pursuit to perfect the next attempt. Kartal and Anton helped me train. My support group also came from Aspire2 International, whenever I needed any help,” mentions Torika in gratitude, and adds proudly, “Today, I am the first police constable in my family.” 

What are the lessons you have learnt from your experience so far?

“It’s easy to make excuses and give up. There’s always a positive way of seeing things. Turn things around and use your failure as a stepping stone. Try not to get distracted,” says Torika.

Do you plan to raise a family or will that distract you from your chosen profession?

“My relationships taught me lessons,” She says. “I’m yet to meet my partner, but when it does happen, I don’t think meeting someone will take me away from my mission.”

What’s your message for the migrant youths of today, looking to pursue their dreams?

“Be the best version of yourself,” says Torika, with a smile that captivates.

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