Mandeep Kaur, who was born in Punjab, India, became the first Indian-origin female police officer in New Zealand.
Kaur fled India in 1994 and had to leave both of her children behind in order to reside in New Zealand. It was even more difficult for her to do so following her divorce because she was now a single mother.
Kaur left her children with her parents and immigrated to New Zealand, where she began her first work as a door-to-door salesperson. She tells about how she didn’t know how to speak English when she moved and how that faced her with a number of difficulties.
“I was able to read and write but I couldn’t really speak. So I’d written my pitch on a piece of paper and I’d go door to door to sell”, she said in a statement to the New Zealand Herald.
Her children Amardeep and Parneet had also moved in with her at this time.
She confided in retired Police Officer John Pegler, who worked as a receptionist at the women’s lodge where she stayed in Auckland. He was a huge supporter and helped her out a lot.
It wasn’t simple for her to become a police officer; she had to shed 20 pounds to get in shape and pass swimming exams that forced her to expose her legs and arms, which she wasn’t fully prepared for given her background.
Despite these obstacles, she became a member of the New Zealand police force two years later, in 2004. She discusses how everyone, regardless of gender or ethnicity, had an equal chance there.
After all of her hard work, she was promoted to Senior Sergeant in the New Zealand police department last month, making her the first woman of Indian descent to do so. This month, she begins her senior position at the Police National Headquarters, where she will have a larger platform to advocate for minorities and individuals of many races, including herself.