Māori wardens didn't get called out to help with the anti-vax mandate protest on Parliament's front lawn in Wellington: Instead, they volunteered.
That's according to Maori Wardens superintendent Gabriel Tupou, who says they saw a need for support Māori and the community after enormous numbers of people descended on Wellington to protest.
As the protest headed into its ninth day there has been a noticeable presence of police and other security organisations trying to manage the people protesting.
Tupou says the Maori Wardens have taken the initiative and have implemented their plan called Operation: Pipitea which “is to offer a high visibility safety presents for our people and the wider community within the rohe of Pipitea”.
Tupou says that since the wardens have been patrolling the protest the energy has been “very much lively” and that it doesn’t really compare to many other protests he has experienced. “The people of the protest are an organised community. They’ve got their own internal security, their own medical staff and they seem to be well contained there.”
The wardens themselves are providing support to the protestors and helping out around the streets, the train station and the wider metro area.
“We felt that it was important enough for us to be involved with it,” Tupou said. “It was of our own volition that we came out here. We did inform the police. In turn, they have provided us with some support.”
Some of the things the Maori wardens have been dealing with have included parked or broken-down vehicles off the roads, breaking up fighting and keeping school kids and commuters safe "while providing that extra layer of support”.
Tupou says that only the foreshore and seabed protest was larger than this protest but that there are many more complexities and kaupapa associated with this protest group that makes it so different.
“There are so many interests and kaupapa out there, the presence of the Tino Rangatiratanga and the United Tribes flags, so the presence of our people is felt, which is why we are there to awhi and tuatoko as required”.