Vitale Lafaele

Vitale Lafaele commanded the armed offenders squad for over 10 years and was the first Samoan Police Commander in the NZ Police


Leadership and Diversity

When Inspector Vitale Lafaele was appointed to the role of area commander Counties Manukau South he was the first Samoan to gain the command of an area in New Zealand and the first Polynesian to reach the top level in any of Auckland’s three metropolitan police districts. 

Vitale is also the only Polynesian to command the Armed Offenders Squad, Special Tactics Group Anti-Terrorist Squad and Dignitary VIP Protection Squad in the NZ Police.

Vitale was born in Apia Samoa. His family moved to Auckland when he was 2.

When he left school, he applied to join the NZ Army Special Air Service (SAS) in the first intake open to civilians.  From the 300 applicants, Vitale was one of four people who survived the 15-month course and spent 7 years as a soldier in the SAS, joining the Police in 1985. 

Vitale spent 15 years as a Detective Senior Sergeant and senior Manager in the CIB and when promoted to Inspector in 2004 was given command of the Special Tactics Anti-Terrorist Group and Armed Offenders Squad. 

Under his leadership, both squads deployed in some of the most nationally significant events in recent times such as the Napier siege, Urewera anti-terrorist raids, and the highly publicised New Lynn hostage rescue, the only explosive entry in NZ Police history.

When appointed to the role of Area Commander Counties Manukau he is still the only Samoan to gain the command of an Area in New Zealand and the only Polynesian to reach the top level in any of Auckland’s three metropolitan Police Districts. Vitale is also the only Polynesian to be appointed Private Secretary to the Minister of Police at Parliament and the Commissioners Executive Staff Officer at Police National Headquarters Wellington.

Vitale knows first-hand the importance of organisational leadership and the notion that everyone is a leader.  Leaders enable a common vision and creates an organisational culture of excellence and high performance.  Vitale promoted leadership in staff he has commanded from small SAS patrols and tactical teams to hundreds of staff as Area Commander.

Highlights of his career includes deploying overseas and serving as a Tactical Commander with the Victoria Police at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and as the Personal Protection Officer to President Bill Clinton at CGHOGM and Prime Minister Tony Blair on his visit to NZ in 2006.

Vitale’s career spanned over 35 years of Army and Police operational, tactical, and executive leadership and is he the only Police officer to command all of NZ Police Tactical Squads.

Vitale has a fascinating story to tell from the early days as a pacific youth growing up in Grey Lynn to following his dreams of one day joining the Army and Police.  Vitale exceeded his own expectations serving in the elite SAS and commanding the NZ Police Armed Offenders Squad and Special Tactics Group.  A rare insight into his training, decision making and mental toughness when charged with the responsibility of making the right decisions under extreme circumstances to save people’s lives