The art of being a NZ Police dog fan

Helaina's watercolour and the original photos of Wellington's Class of 2017 police dogs. Photo: NZ Police.

She might live overseas now, but art-loving ten-year-old Helaina Hawthorne is using her talent as a way of keeping in touch with New Zealand – and our police dogs.

Helaina - formerly of Tauranga but now living in Sydney – saw the  ‘Class of 2017’ police dog photo that was posted on the NZ Police Facebook page to mark International Dog Day last week.

“She was inspired to paint her own version and decided to send it across the Tasman so our dog handlers could see their amazing dogs painted in watercolour,” says a Police spokesperson.

“We’re originally from Tauranga but we moved to Sydney at the beginning of last year,” says Helaina’s mum, Lauren.

“We love to keep up-to-date with everything going on in New Zealand. All of our whānau is still in New Zealand and my mum, Helaina’s grandmother, sent us the photo of the police dogs knowing Helaina would love it.”

She says Helaina has always loved art and her talent was inherited from her grandfather, who sadly died this week.

Along with art, Helaina also loves dogs.

“My dream is to own a German Shepherd dog when I’m bigger, but I’m pretty happy with our little toy poodle at the moment,” says Helaina. “I want to be a vet when I grow up.

“We appreciate all the work the police do, but most of all I like and really appreciate the dog handlers. I hope this brightens their day up.”

The original Class of 2017 image was created by Wellington forensic photographer - and police dog photographer extraordinaire – Senior Constable Jane Dunn, as a tribute to dogs working in the district at that time.

“I took these photos after we lost one of our dogs, Gaz, because I wanted to immortalise all the Wellington police dogs in case the worst happened,” says Jane.

“Since then I’ve tried to capture as many of our working pups as possible.

“I’m always so happy to see when the images that I take are loved as much as I love them. Helaina’s picture is lovely and I am sure the handlers will love seeing it.”

Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator Police Dogs, thanked Helaina.

“This photo was just one example of the great work Jane does for the Dog Section and the New Zealand Police Dog Charitable Trust calendar (link is external),” says Inspector Southall.

“I’m always amazed at her passion and the photos she takes. It’s fantastic having her part of our team.”

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