Dra­matic siege brought out the best in Porirua

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS -

Acri­sis will usu­ally bring out the best in a com­mu­nity, but each com­mu­nity will re­act in its own way. Porirua’s re­sponse to the siege in Kokiri Cres was unique.

The first re­ac­tion to the shoot­ing, of course, was shock and hor­ror. A po­lice­man leaped out of a se­cond-storey win­dow and a gun­man was seen in the street; shots came from another house, and a po­lice­man car­ried a dog drip­ping blood.

As al­ways with such events, the lo­cal com­mu­nity could not be­lieve what was hap­pen­ing in its ‘‘quiet neigh­bour­hood’’.

The evac­u­a­tion came next, and here too there was ter­ror and haste. He­len Feo and her fam­ily in nearby War­spite Ave were told to leave and, ‘‘We just grabbed the ba­bies and left’’, she said.

Then the in­stinct to help kicked in, and the strength of Porirua’s com­mu­nity showed it­self. The help cen­tred on the lo­cal marae and the work of Maori war­dens, an in­sti­tu­tion that has re­cently been crit­i­cised be­cause it still has the right to ban ‘‘trou­ble­some Maori’’ from pubs.

The cri­sis showed the value of the war­dens. War­den Aunty Heni and po­lice iwi li­ai­son of­fi­cer Mike Ta­here searched the streets that night for Kokiri Cres peo­ple, and found them in cars, bus shel­ters and un­der trees.

Aunty Heni banged on car win­dows and said, ‘‘Get up, come with me, I’m tak­ing you home’’. She meant home to Horouta Marae. The marae was a haven.

There was not just food – 80 peo­ple dined on mashed potato, mince and pump­kin – but beds and com­fort. As Aunty Heni said, the com­mu­nity re­sponded ‘‘as only the Porirua com­mu­nity would’’, with peo­ple bring­ing food, toi­let pa­per, and even a new television’’.

Porirua showed once again what a won­der­ful in­sti­tu­tion the marae is, and what a splen­did ser­vice the war­dens pro­vide.

The war­dens, as Rang­inui Walker once said, ‘‘are the mod­ern out­come of the Maori de­sire, since the Treaty of Wai­tangi sign­ing in 1840, for their own forms of so­cial con­trol’’.

The stereo­type of Porirua is of a poor and trou­bled com­mu­nity, al­though this stereo­type has lit­tle to do with an in­creas­ingly con­fi­dent and com­fort­able city.

But the stereo­type was never fair; the re­al­ity of Porirua’s man­aak­i­tanga and its pow­er­ful com­mu­nity strength was on pub­lic dis­play at the week­end. No­body could fail to be moved by it.

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