Duncan Cameron -Trainer

Real-life workplace emergency courses, delivered by real-life, New Zealand Emergency Managers.

Duncan Cameron is a Security Studies Lecturer at the Universal College of Learning (UCOL). Prior to this role he was a Security Advisor and Military Liaison in Papua New Guinea and a Private Security Contractor supporting ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) operations in Afghanistan.

Based in Dubai he had various roles, from Director of Security, to the Close Protection of people and assets across the Middle East, Central Asia and East Africa. Duncan is also a former New Zealand Police Constable serving on the frontline – the sharp end of policing, in roles such as Emergency Response, Firearms Training, Armed Offender Squad, General Duties and a Firearms Instructor at the Royal New Zealand Police College.



How long and what roles have you had or currently maintain in Emergency Management?

 By definition of Emergency Management, the accurate answer is zero! But if I was to split the two words into Emergency & Management then the accurate answer is, “a long time” and “many roles”. I was in the NZ Police for about 14 years and crammed a lot into that time. I was based in South Auckland, Feilding & Palmerston North in various roles and completed various duties. I have worked in Central Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, Papua New Guinea, Australia and across New Zealand in the private & commercial security industry. I lecturer at one of New Zealand’s largest Polytechs and lead their Security programme. I am also an Operations Manager at one of New Zealand’s largest commercial security companies.

I have been a professional manager in the NZ Rugby NPC; NZ Māori Rugby; Rugby 7s and age-grade provincial representative teams.


Did you always want to be in these types of roles?

I wanted to be a Policeman. A recall at primary school a traffic cop and a policeman visited. I was sold. Once in the police I enjoyed serving the community. That has since evolved into various roles that all link back to “service”.


Can you remember your first day? Can you describe it?

 My first day was in Wiri, Manukau City, South Auckland. I was about an hour early and sat in the briefing room waiting, waiting, waiting. Slowly my Section (we were Section 6; there were 5 others) arrived. A cop passed me a notebook and said “you better get started” or something like that. I opened the book and it had 14 names. Next to the names were black, white, sugar, tea, milo, milk, cream… I was now “JB” or Junior Boy. Until someone new came after me, I was JB (only lasted 2 weeks because a new graduate arrived.) I was told that 6 months in South Auckland was equivalent to 2 years anywhere else in the country. They weren’t wrong.


What advice would you have given your younger self, just starting out, knowing what you know now?

 The shirt is only made of cotton. Same as the bad guy.

Stay away from the sharp end of a police dog.

Violence is not gender specific.

Go with your gut… always.

Mindset. Accept that bad things are going to happen.

Never have a Plan B. Plan B is crap. If Plan B was any good, it would Plan A.

Talk to someone. Often. Have a regular mental health check-in. Its okay!


If you could start all over again, would you choose a different department, path or career?

 Nope. Mind you, I still don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up.


What advice would you give someone confident about pursuing a similar career?

 It doesn’t happen overnight. I have had some great opportunities, built some fantastic relationships and things have evolved. That takes more than a CV. Work harder than the guy next to you. Push your own barrel. Read.


What advice would you give to someone that really wants to be able to help people in the community but doesn’t think they are “brave” enough?

I think bravery and stupidity are the same. It’s the outcome that determines the label.

Bravery is my kids watching their Grandma pass away. Bravery is my mum telling the medical team to sod off, because she will sign-out on her own terms. Bravery is a 5-year-old that stands between his mum and her abusive partner.

So, in the context of the question… pause, think, react. Trust yourself.


What are some of the best outcomes/ achievements you have been a part of in your career?

My whanau. The good, the bad & the ugly of all I’ve brought home. We’re doing ok.


Who have been great role models or extraordinary influences in your successful career over the years?

 My kids. Liz. My parents.


What are some of the saddest / worst events you have been a part of?

 Road trauma or any other violence involving kids. CPR on an infant. Some pretty horrific domestic violence. Conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia…


Did you ever feel like giving up due to the work pressures or exposure to extreme situations?

 No. Talk to someone. Often.


How has Technology and training changed since you started?

 The mantra train hard, fight easy hasn’t changed. But the physical training is more dynamic, innovative and challenging. Technology is amazing. Covid has demonstrated to the world that distance is no barrier to friendship, business… and war. I’ve seen a UAV take off from an air base in Afghanistan, then be told that at a certain height a pilot back in Nevada, USA will fly it!?!

I also recall lying prone on a firing range, freezing in mid-winter wondering, how was I going to warm up enough to get my rounds back on target because I was shaking the rifle… now there is an indoor range, clean floor, adjustable lighting…


Being a NZ Survivor trainer, Is there anything you would like to say to potential clients?

Trust the team. Trust the brand. You’re in good hands.

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