The need for more support for Maori families in Dunedin
has prompted the Otakou Runanga to establish a branch of
Maori wardens in the city. Brenda Harwood reports.
The Maori warden service in Dunedin is to be reinvigorated,
with the establishment of a branch under the umbrella of the
Ngai Tahu Otakou Runanga authority.
Otakou Runanga chairwoman Donna Matahaere-Atariki said the
aim of the new Otakou branch of Maori wardens would be to
provide support for whanau and rangatahi (youth) across
Dunedin. About 7200 to 8400 people (6% to 7% of Dunedin's
population) are Maori.
''The idea is to have a particular focus on where our young
people are hanging out,'' Ms Matahaere-Atariki said.
The idea for the Otakou branch of voluntary Maori wardens
came about through Ms Matahaere-Atariki's work with the South
Dunedin Social Sector Trial, which made it clear whanau
needed more support. While Maori wardens came under the
umbrella of Te Puni Kokiri, the day-to-day operation of the
local branch would come under the runanga, with support from
''I wanted to put some life into Maori wardens and since they
are giving their time and need to be looked after, it seemed
as though the runanga would be the best group to do that,''
To have sufficient volunteers to be able to ''spread the
load'', Ms Matahaere-Atariki was hoping to recruit about 15
It was important Maori wardens came from within the local
community, so they had strong connections with whanau, she
''Input from whanau on the pressure points they face will be
very important in establishing where Maori wardens may be
able to help relieve that pressure.
''I'm very interested in keeping our kids out of the justice
[system] and helping our whanau to step up and know that they
will be supported.''
In establishing the branch, the Otakou Runanga had worked
closely with police iwi and Pacific liaison officer for
Dunedin-Clutha Senior Constable Toni Wall.
Snr Const Wall said there had been a Maori warden branch in
Dunedin for many years, but due to a lack of numbers and work
commitments this had been less active recently.
''I believe there is a need for more Maori wardens in
Dunedin, especially with ongoing issues around drugs, alcohol
and behaviour,'' Snr Const Wall said.
Police were involved with Maori wardens through providing
branches with a van and ongoing training and support, she
''The focus will be on young people, so it will be good to
have another group of people out in the community that young
people can relate to.''
Becoming a Maori warden could be a good opportunity for
personal development, especially with free training provided
in security, first aid and fire safety, she said.
A hui for people interested in becoming Maori wardens will be
held as part of an overall family day at Otakou Marae on July
The event will also officially launch ''Te Putahitanga o Te
Waipounamu - South Island Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency''.
Te Putahitanga is one of three non-government organisations
established to oversee Whanau Ora funding. Other
organisations focus on the North Island and on Pacific
Te Putahitanga will commission private-sector agencies to
deliver services to whanau on behalf of the Government.
Interim chief executive Diane Turner told The Star the launch
event on July 26 would be a great opportunity for people to
hear about the future focus of Whanau Ora in the South