I’ve been meeting with several of our Māori wardens throughout the country and it has been humbling to hear their aspirations. It’s apparent in the rich conversations held that there are memories that stem back to those early forebears of the Māori Wardens badge. Their legacy was simple ‘aroha ki te tangata’ show love/compassion/kindness to all.
The people who commit their voluntary time to ngā wātene māori are truly grassroots and by that I mean they live and interact in their community. These are the people that you will see at big or small hui, they are likely to put themselves in the background of an event and were it not for the uniform, they would go about their role in the most inconspicuous way.
But ngā wātene māori are more than ‘traffic control’ or ‘crowd event’ ushers . More and more our wardens are being called upon to ‘fill the gap’ anything from supporting advocacy roles for whānau navigating court process, to security work, to defacto support ‘social work’ roles, to helping the homeless, to supporting kaumatua and community services. It’s clear that the time has come to refresh and modernise the roles and functions currently undertaken by ngā wātene māori to ensure that they are not constrained by an outdated definition referred to in the Maori Community Development Act 1962.
That’s why I’m seeking feedback from wardens about the kind of future they would like to see for themselves. There have been several efforts to try and map out a plan for the future but we are well over due to ensure action is taken. Stay tuned as I look to work with ngā wātene māori to ensure that this legacy organisation can build a more sustainable future for themselves.