In April 2012 Palmerston North Police launched Cops in Schools - a primary school-based programme providing adult role models for vulnerable children.
It works in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters Manawatu, which matches six to 18-year-olds with mentors in professionally supported one-to-one relationships.
Fifteen Police staff currently partner children from six Palmerston North schools. A rollout to other areas and intermediate and high schools is planned.
Sergeant Phil Ward, programme manager and a Big Brother, says a highlight for him was partnering eight-year-old Thomas Nuku.
"I learned some of the difficulties Thomas faced every day," says Phil. "He struggled with learning, was disruptive in class and had a history of absenteeism which affected his ability to learn and relate to others.
"But most of all I saw an innocent kid who was struggling as a result of things outside his control."
The pair's activities ranged from kicking a rugby ball around - "pretending we were Dan Carter" - to building a go-kart and reconditioning a BMX bike rescued from the scrap yard.