This agency was created by Archives New Zealand to describe the records transferred to it relating to the various policing organisations which have existed in New Zealand since the nineteenth century. These include:
Provincial Policing Forces (1853 - 1867)
Armed Constabulary Force (1867 - 1877)
New Zealand Constabulary Force (1877 -1886)
New Zealand Police Force (1886 - 1958)
The New Zealand Police (1958 - ct)
When a police force for New Zealand was first established, in 1846, the intention was to have an armed police force for preserving the peace. In effect, however, at this point the police had the task of first establishing order, and then maintaining it. The idea of a police force as an armed group remained for some time, through the unrest of the 1860s. When the Armed Constabulary Force was set up in 1867, it was designed to be a temporary arrangement - ideally an unarmed force would eventually be responsible for maintaining civil order without violence.
1886 saw the separation of military and civil forces, with the first largely unarmed police force in New Zealand. From this time army functions have been entirely separate from police, and the police has been solely concerned with maintaining civil order.
The New Zealand Police Force has formally existed since 1886, although since 1958 it has been known as The New Zealand Police.