Michelle Taiaroa-McDonald reports that earlier this month Ōtākou formally established a branch of voluntary Māori Wardens.

For those born in the 80s and beyond you may not be familiar with the sight of a Māori Warden walking the streets and events in our city, with their incredibly shiny shoes and ability to call your Mum and let her know you were smoking at the Queens Gardens bus stop (I’m not bitter at all).

Youth crime statistics in our city are disgusting. Many factors including alcohol, can turn a shiny future in a heartbeat. Interception by a Māori Warden can make a difference between a drunken teenager and a set of handcuffs, so when the police asked for rūnanga assistance we were happy to respond.

The concept motto for the wardens is, ‘Aroha ki te tangata – For the love of the people.’

The role of the wardens ranges from health and safety through to education, youth assistance and whānau support. Their mahi is recognised and valued and considered as being as relevant today as it was 50-years-ago when the movement first began.

The training that is given to the wardens ranges from child advocacy to police induction training. For our young wardens it sets them up well to launch into other careers and it is a real draw card on anyone’s resume.

We currently have seven wardens well through the training with four still waiting for training opportunities that suit their busy lives. Soon our wardens will be out and about, so be sure to introduce yourself, especially if you have rangatahi or moko who spend time in our city after dark.

For further information contact Michelle Taiaroa-McDonald, [email protected] or 027 281 5679.

Our Māori wardens in the new van.

Our Māori wardens in the new van.