Graduating from Wing 69 in December 1977, Malcolm Inglis was perhaps better prepared than most for the challenges of a life in policing.
"I have dyslexia, so it wasn’t an easy pathway with a lot of writing and reading. That was the biggest hurdle, but I was determined."
That determination became a keystone of his career with New Zealand Police, where he is a towering figure in the world of investigations, working on some of the country’s most high-profile cases.
As a proud southerner — born and bred in Dunedin — he was delighted to be stationed there after graduating.
"The first couple of years were great as I had a good section and a boss who was very helpful in mentoring me as a young probationary constable — showing you how to put arrest files together, entering charges, and walking the beat with you and introducing community members, publicans, shop owners."
That connection with his communities may well have nurtured Detective Senior Sergeant Inglis’ impressive ability to communicate with people from all walks of life.
He enjoyed his time on section and says the nature of frontline policing in the late 1970s and early 1980s was very different from today.
"It was a lot less complicated then, with less gangs and drugs. I also spent a lot of time country relieving and would spend a couple months over Christmas in Wānaka helping the sole-charge cop, which was a great time."
It wasn’t always simple though. In 1981, he was involved in policing on the frontline for the protests during the Springbok tour of New Zealand. It was one of New Zealand’s most divisive moments and the young policeman was in the thick of it, conflicted with his own anti-apartheid convictions.
"That’s just one of the challenges of policing."
After time on section, he joined Dunedin’s part-time surveillance squad which, it seems, had part-time resourcing for a while too.
"We had to use our own cars for this work. But the team continued to develop with more and more jobs until we formed a full-time squad and were given old government department vehicles that were going to be sold."
Five years on the squad saw Det Snr Sgt Inglis travel to every corner of the country, and he decided to follow a path in the CIB.
"I joined the CIB in 1988. I worked on all the squads but enjoyed my time on the drug squad the most as it was the real ‘cops and robbers’ type of policing."
As his career developed, he worked on some extremely high-profile cases and incidents.
"Things that stand out are the work on Aramoana — the tragedy of losing a good friend — and the Bain homicides and all that followed with that case."
His professionalism and determination saw him rise through the ranks. In 1997 he became a detective sergeant in the organised crime/drug squad. This was a particularly busy stint.
Great results might just be a typical understatement. On his watch there was major disruption to the criminal activity of the Road Knights gang in Invercargill and Central Otago, with many significant drug, cash and firearm seizures.
He then went on to become head of the child protection team.
"I did that for eight years, which would be the most challenging, but also at times the most rewarding work I did within the CIB.
"Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of improvements to be made in this area, as well adult sexual assault work, as it is still too difficult to get convictions in court for these crimes."
It was not until 2016 that he made the move to what he describes as "the best part of New Zealand", taking the position of CIB manager for Otago Lakes Central, working out of Queenstown station in the role he retired from last month.
"This was a great move,"
While the spectacular landscapes of Queenstown and the wider region provide a dramatic backdrop for Det Sen Sgt Inglis’s work, it is the people, not the landscapes, that have inspired, motivated and supported him.
"Whether it’s been staff from other agencies, offenders, or victims, it’s been dealing with people that I’ve enjoyed the most. Also, the great staff I have worked with and the passion they had to get a good job done."
It is little wonder the staff around him had that desire to do a good job. For decades Det Sen Sgt Inglis has shown the type of leadership and mana that brings out the absolute best in the people around him, with consistently excellent results.
The buzz of achieving those results is something he admits he will miss.
"There’s nothing quite like the excitement of a good investigation. But having a good laugh over something that is right out of left field, and the people around you, are definitely what I will miss the most."
In return, Det Sen Sgt Inglis’ 46 years of expertise, professionalism and dedication will be sorely missed but he has no concerns for the future of policing.
"It’s great to see some of the wonderful new staff coming through the system, which gives me confidence that police will be in good hands." — New Zealand Police