Spectrum 653 and Spectrum 654. Maloney's law

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Documentary radio programs
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
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RNZ Collection
MALONEY, Warwick, Interviewee
Perkins, Jack (b.1940), Interviewer
National Radio (N.Z.) (estab. 1986, closed 2007), Broadcaster

A two-part documentary. After 35 years' service, Sergeant Warwick Maloney retired from the Police Force firmly believing that the rulebook is "for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools." This cop of the old school recalls his eventful career in conversation with Jack Perkins in a two-part Spectrum radio documentary.

In the first programme, Warwick Maloney recalls moving from his home on the West Coast in the 1950s to start training as a teenage police officer in Christchurch. He was put on "Number 3 Beat" in the central city with no training, and just had to rely on commonsense. He recalls how drunks were dealt with. When he moved to Lyttelton he experienced resentment towards the police as a result of the 1951 waterfront lockout.

He moved to Wellington in 1953, with the waterfront as part of his beat. He describes another officer throwing drunk seamen off the wharf. The wharves were so busy in those days, they were like a city within a city. He says there were only two gates to the wharves in an attempt to keep the "ship girls" and contraband under control.

He recalls working at Wellington Railway Station assisting when the bodies of victims from the Tangiwai rail disaster were brought in. He says as a 19 year old this had a deep impression on him. The mass grave the victims were buried in had to be exhumed for further body identification.

He talks about Sergeant Mick Quirk who also worked on the wharves, armed at all times with a .32 pistol in a quick-draw holster.

In 1956 he returned to Christchurch as a licensing officer, visiting hotels to make sure they weren't operating after-hours, which had been prolific in Christchurch prior to 1956. He recalls the crack-down came after the Mercer case, in which a woman murdered her boyfriend after after-hours drinking.

He compares the after-hours drinking culture in Christchurch to that on the West Coast and recalls the culture in the central police station, where practical jokes were popular. He recalls Ronald Jorgenson (later convicted for machine-gun killing) as a teenage criminal who ran a gang in Christchurch and was arrested for burglaries at the airport.

In 1965 he went to the Chatham Islands, where the police officer represented all branches of government, and had to do everything from marrying and burying locals, registering dogs and refereeing rugby games. He says crime was virtually non-existent.

In the second programme Warwick Maloney recalls how the easy life of a police officer on the Chatham Islands changed when the rock lobster 'gold rush' began. Inexperienced crayfishermen from Bluff to North Auckland arrived to make their fortunes. Many had criminal backgrounds on mainland New Zealand and caused trouble when they came ashore to visit the only hotel on the Chathams. He talks about how he dealt with this. He tells a story about serving a writ on a fisherman out at sea, flying out on a helicopter.

He recalls the sinking of a fishing boat "Karen" from Wellington, which was sailing from Pitt Island while heavily loaded. The four crew were never recovered. Eight vessels were lost on the rocks while he was on the islands, partly due to inexperience. He says he worked three years without a break on the islands.

He then returned to work in Queenstown, which had a reputation for unruly behaviour over the New Year's Eve period. He started policing hotels heavily for after-hours and excessive drinking. There was opposition from locals initially, who felt it was only visitors who should be policed. He became known as "The Sheriff" and the cells were "The Maloney Motels."

He recalls fights with an Invercargill bikie gang which came to cause trouble and break up Eichardt's Hotel. He was assisted by the local football team and volunteer fire brigade members. The Blossom Festival in Alexandra also drew troublemakers from Dunedin who tried to move on to Queenstown. He describes encounters in the 1970s with hitchhikers, drug dealers and drunken All Blacks.
He eventually won the support of Queenstown locals who could see their town changing with the advent of mass tourism.

He says despite receiving many complaints about his policing in his career, there is nothing he would change about his approach.