Govt signs off $1mil funds for Māori Wardens

By Talisa Kupenga

The Māori Wardens will be focusing on developing opportunities for rangatahi  in education and employment now that the government has signed off the $1mil promised in Budget 2018.

Te Puni Kōkiri Māori Wardens project manager Te Rau Clarke says, "The focus will be on moving rangatahi onto a programme or a pathway that moves them closer to education or employment."

Māori Wardens from across the country will build a programme based on their experiences in the regions.  It's part of the wider Pae Aronui programme targeting Māori youth not in employment, education or training.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta says, "They will be like mentors, or role models who will help the youth that need more support."

Clarke says, "It's building their confidence, being able to interview well, completing a CV, having the skills to be able to approach employers, talk with people in general.  It’s basic stuff but stuff that is probably needed more now than ever."

Māori Warden member numbers have grown in the past year to around 800, with 100 of those being younger members who have joined the ranks.

"Māori Wardens in communities are trusted, they're already working with rangatahi and the wider whānau so this is just an extension of work that they can do with whānau and rangatahi."

Clarke says the goal is to have the new programme at multiple sites next year and to keep improving further.

The funds will be split over four years.