Walk the beat with wardens
other stuff’’ that exists, even in Porirua, is beyond her control and ‘‘we just get on and do what we do’’.
The Ngati Toa group has been running for two years and seven wardens work in an area that covers Johnsonville to Peka Peka. Their van and its costs are covered by Kapiti Mana Police, who also provide them with radios.
There are no Maori wardens operating in Wellington City, although a number patrolled there during the Rugby World Cup, and there is a strong presence in Lower Hutt, including groups based in Naenae and Wainuiomata.
‘‘At the end of the day we all act quite autonomously, but we’re beside police and we all want the same thing – a safer community.
‘‘If we’re called into an event in Wellington, we’ll go,’’ Mrs August says.
In the days after the Kapi Mana News spoke to her, she and her colleagues had a number of events to attend, including the blessing of a home where a woman died in Tawa and a celebration of the 28th Maori Battalion.
There is one other wardens group in Porirua, but they don’t have much to do with each other, Mrs August says.
‘‘When a group of us wanted to give it a go again, we decided on a new name and to go old school.’’
Training involves a course at the police college, with a uniform provided. Mrs August says ‘‘it depends on the person’’ as to how long it takes before they’re on the front line, but it is often within six months.
They have to be good with people and want to make a change in their community.
All potential wardens are vetted via police checks.
‘‘It’s important you don’t talk down to people, we need to establish relationships. We watch our younger ones, pick them up and take them home. They know who we are and a few of them call me ‘nan’. Most of us are mothers and grandmothers, so we know what kids are like. You would be surprised how many young ones are out drinking, all under 18, even in winter.’’
Richard Quirk joined because he works part-time and was willing to give a few hours when he was free. He sometimes does up to 25 hours over the weekend, from 7pm to 2am.
‘‘I like helping people and I have family members who do it, it’s a bit of a tradition. You’re helping your community.’’
Former Kapiti Mana Police area commander Inspector John Price says they have an ‘‘ exceptional’’ relationship with Ngati Toa wardens and were happy to help with their establishment two years ago.
‘‘ There is a nationwide project underway [with Te Puni Kokiri] and we are talking about a group of people who are doing this in their own time, presenting themselves professionally and driven by a sense of service. The Ngati Toa wardens are capable guardians working alongside us to keep people safe and provide reassurance. That makes them special, they are quiet but visible heroes.’’
Mr Price says while police and Maori wardens’ closeness is not unique, housing them in the NPT building in Cannons Creek shows the extent to which the support exists in Porirua. They can share information about ‘‘ hot’’ locations and are always aware of what is occurring locally, he says.
‘‘ The neighbourhood policing model involves a multi- faceted approach, of which the wardens are a part of here. Certain sections of the community see police as being a source of conflict, as we have powers of arrest, but the high regard of the wardens makes them invaluable in many instances in Kapiti Mana.’’
In two years Mrs August says she has never felt unsafe, with general respect garnered from even the ‘‘unsavoury characters’’ in the city.
‘‘We observe and report, there are sticky situations but we contact police and stay back. The wardens are seen as a calming influence and we want to keep it that way.’’
Serving their community: Heniaka August and Richard Quirk, from the Ngati Toa Maori Wardens, volunteer their time to make Porirua a safer place.