Walk the beat with war­dens

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE -

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.

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