Although provision was made in 1938 for the appointment of policewomen, it was not until 1941 that the first six were sworn in. At first they were not in uniform and were mainly on office duties. The first uniformed policewomen went on outside duty in 1949 and the present regulation uniform was finally adopted in 1952. The outdoor duties of a policewoman are basically the same as for the male police officer and include patrol work. Uniformed policewomen carry handcuffs, but find the sight of their uniforms is usually a deterrent to bad behaviour. In 1958 the first woman passed the police sergeants' examination to qualify for promotion. In 1962, a policewoman passed the examination for senior sergeant, the first to do so.
Women have been admitted to the CIB since 1956, all having seen service in the uniform branch. The duties of women members of the CIB are again much the same as for male detectives, with emphasis on thefts, false pretences, assaults, and crimes against women and children.
At the end of March 1965 there were 51 policewomen in the New Zealand Police. Applicants must be between the ages of 20 years (the entry age was lowered at the beginning of 1963 from 23 years to 20 years) and 33, at least 5 ft 5 in. tall, of good health, of proved character, and of British nationality.