South Auckland Māori wardens ramp up assistance

updated By D'Angelo Martin

Although large numbers of Māori Wardens isolating at home due to their age, that hasn’t stopped them from helping others. The Māori Wardens of South Auckland have been delivering to those in need. Some five weeks on, hygiene packs are still the number one request.

Warden Matarora Smith says, “We're adding the gloves mask and face shields because our people are not able to afford to buy that.”

They've reduced their staff by 20, taking it from 100 wardens to 80 within South Auckland.

Matarora Smith continues, “Our Wardens are 50 to 80 years old. So straight away we're part of the risk factor. So as the kaiārahi matua I called the shot of a two-week stand down because we had to assess our health and ourselves.”

The importance of community safety and reassurance it plays a big part in our communities especially the low socioeconomic

The Māori Warden Otāhūhū office has been converted into a Welfare Centre. Here Wardens provide food parcels and other goods to the elderly and wider public.

Lesley Matea says, “This food here is actually donated from other organisations to help our kaumātua, our kuia, that haven’t got access to getting to the supermarkets.”

Thomas Henry adds, “Some of our whānau, they’re so shy. Especially our kaumātua and kuikui. That they don't want to be taken to the front, or when, [sic] or when we say gold cardholders. So they can come to the front they feel whakamā.”

Lesley Matea manages the Ōtāhuhu budgeting service and the welfare centre. She says post-lockdown they anticipate a rise in financial hardships.

“Financially, there will be a lot of families who are going to be suffering. That’s the dilemma that’s going to happen. It [sic] will be a lot of work for all the budget services.

The Māori wardens will look to rebuild, recruit, and retrain their voluntary members. This will ensure that they remain well prepared and ready to carry on.