Te reo a great ad­van­tage on the job of­fi­cers say

Learn­ing Maori lan­guage and pro­to­col is prov­ing use­ful for Auck­land po­lice. Ka­rina Abadia re­ports.

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

SE­NIOR Sergeant Joe Tipene says his role as an iwi li­ai­son of­fi­cer en­ables him to strengthen re­la­tion­ships be­tween the po­lice and the Maori com­mu­nity.

He and Con­sta­ble Jackie Simeon are iwi li­ai­son of­fi­cers based at Auck­land Cen­tral po­lice sta­tion. They are re­spon­si­ble for Cen­tral and East Auck­land.

The role of the iwi li­ai­son of­fi­cer was es­tab­lished in the New Zealand Po­lice in 1992 and the op­por­tu­nity for th­ese of­fi­cers to study a Maori im­mer­sion course was in­tro­duced in 2000.

Eleven mem­bers of the po­lice in Auck­land, in­clud­ing Mr Tipene and Mr Simeon, have taken up the chal­lenge since then.

Be­ing equipped with an un­der­stand­ing of all things Maori can be a great ad­van­tage, Mr Tipene says.

‘‘In terms of com­mu­nity en­gage­ment there are oc­ca­sions when it opens up a whole lot more doors if we’ve got skills in te reo and an un­der­stand­ing of tikanga (pro­to­cols).’’

The men work closely with marae and Maori-lan­guage im­mer­sion schools and give pos­i­tive mes­sages on such things as crime preven­tion, drugs, al­co­hol and bul­ly­ing.

Be­ing able to speak in English and Maori means stu­dents tend to be more will­ing to lis­ten, he says.

An­other part of their job is to ad­vise po­lice on mat­ters of Maori pro­to­col.

They also sup­port po­lice at events and can speak on their be­half.

Mr Tipene is of Te Rarawa, Ngati Whatua and Nga­puhi de­scent and stud­ied the one-year ru­maki reo course at Te Wananga Tak­iura in 2011. He found it hugely re­ward­ing.

‘The course gives us the tools to be more re­spon­sive to the needs of our Maori com­mu­nity.’’

This year there are four of­fi­cers from around Auck­land tak­ing the course which is fully funded by the po­lice.

Of­fi­cers re­main salaried staff mem­bers while they study.

Mr Tipene’s lan­guage skills were lim­ited when he started the course so it was tough to fol­low what was go­ing on.

‘‘About half­way through is when the penny dropped for me,’’ he says.

‘‘I get the ma­jor­ity of what some­one is say­ing now but not all of it. ‘‘I still have a lot to learn.’’ Mr Simeon is of Nga Hine de­scent and went to high school at Hato Petera, a kura kau­papa Maori in North­cote.

‘‘The course strength­ened what I knew and added a bit more. It has made my role eas­ier and if I need to stand up and speak, I feel more con­fi­dent to do so.’’

Both men feel lucky to have been of­fered the chance to fur­ther their lan­guage and cul­tural aware­ness. They are keen to keep it up so have en­rolled in te reo night classes at Unitec this term.

‘The more you learn the more you want to keep on learn­ing,’’ Mr Simeon says.

Mr Tipene says the scheme has brought him closer to his own cul­ture.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Cul­tural bridge: Iwi li­ai­son of­fi­cers Se­nior Sergeant Joe Tipene and Con­sta­ble Jackie Simeon have im­proved their te reo skills in or­der to bet­ter serve the needs of their com­mu­nity.

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