Summary of Feedback from Māori Warden Groups to the Minister of Māori Development

From late 2018, the Minister for Māori Development has been meeting with some Māori Warden Groups focusing on how to support the modernisation of the Māori Wardens, and a desire for greater operational autonomy. Feedback was wide-ranging and is helping to identify the breadth of changes Māori Wardens seek to achieve a strong future.

 

Introduction from the Minister for Māori Development

During November and December 2018, I took the opportunity to hui with Māori Wardens groups as I was travelling around the motu on other business.

The hui were focused on possible approaches to modernising the Māori Wardens and providing for greater operational autonomy.  Of course, Māori Wardens raised many other issues as well, including a range of operational matters.

The summary below sets out key issues raised to date.  I hope to be able to visit Māori Wardens in other districts in the New Year, along with hui around Rātana, Waitangi, and Te Matatini.  These hui will provide us an opportunity to discuss in more detail what the options for modernisation and operational autonomy might mean for Māori Wardens.

Minister for Māori Development
Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Watch power point of summary notes [PPSX 9,MB]

Functions and Powers

Māori Wardens are doing much more than is described as their functions and powers in the Māori Community Development Act 1962.  This has been the case for some time, and new roles are constantly emerging.  There are also significant variations across Districts, in response to different whānau and community needs, and different Māori Wardens capabilities.

Understanding the breadth and nature of the activities that Māori Wardens are doing is important for ensuring that there is appropriate support, including resources (e.g. vehicles, equipment), and training, qualifications and/or certifications.

More also needs to be done to promote Māori Wardens, such as introducing newly warranted Wardens to communities or holding community celebrations when they are warranted.

Identifying the different ‘levels’ within Māori Wardens was seen by some as a priority, ensuring there is a visibility of unwarranted, pre-warranted, warranted and life-time members.

Examples Māori Wardens have given:

  • Working alongside NZ Police (e.g. at drink drive stops, and on Community Panels)
  • Doing traffic management/control, and supporting emergency management/civil defence activities
  • Managing parking and doing security at community events (e.g. A&P Shows, concerts, Christmas parades)
  • Looking after kaumātua (e.g. taking then to lunch and other social activities, parking their cars, and other general things they have difficulty doing alone)
  • Support rangatahi and whānau in the Courts and through Oranga Tamariki processes
  • Working with the homeless on housing and food bank access
  • Doing street/community reassurance night patrols
  • Working with rangatahi (e.g. teaching/supporting them, trying to reduce truancy, discouraging shoplifting, helping them re-engage in learning/find employment)
  • Supporting community-based workshops (e.g. to reduce domestic violence)

Recruitment, Retention and Training

More training and qualifications have been identified as high need areas, to ensure that Māori Wardens are able to meet new requirements (e.g. certification), navigate systems, access community and agency supports for whānau, and support social service providers/specialists in dealing with mental health issues or suicide prevention.

Succession planning was identified as critical to ensuring that senior Wardens could attract, mentor and guide new Wardens.

Attracting younger Wardens was also seen as important, although it was acknowledged that this is made difficult by Jobseeker requirements or competing employment opportunities.

The provision of relevant training and qualifications was seen as an opportunity to attract more new Wardens, and enable a number of Wardens to balance employment and volunteering commitments.

What Māori Wardens want:

  • Better promotion and understanding of what they do
  • An updated Induction Manual and training programme (led by senior Wardens) to ensure consistency of ‘delivery’
  • Training to meet new requirements (e.g. certification), navigate systems, access community and agency supports for whānau, and support social service providers/specialists in dealing with mental health issues or suicide prevention
  • Clear qualification-based training, as this will allow Wardens to secure paid work and/or offer fee-based services
  • Higher-level/advanced training in particular areas (e.g. STMS Level 2 and 3)
  • Support to build their own capability, including a potential Māori Wardens Training College
  • More consistent provision of training across the country

Funding, Resources and Reporting

Requests were made to simplify processes to access funding, and for additional resources including more vans, technology to support mobility (e.g. phones and/or tablets), and more information on community and agency supports.

Several requests were also made for reporting to be made less onerous/time-consuming, whilst acknowledging the need to ensure transparency and accountability.

I acknowledged that simplifying reporting was important, but also explained the value of reports, particularly in seeing the breadth of Māori Wardens’ activities in supporting whānau and communities in the Districts and across the country.

What Māori Wardens want:

  • More equipment, including vehicles, radios, uniforms.
  • Training and tools/resources for dealing with specific issues e.g. mental health, drug and alcohol.
  • Wellbeing plans for Māori Wardens.
  • Better connections to existing networks of relevant professionals/agency initiatives and resources.
  • Applications/digital resources, including links to Police and other agency digital resources – to assist Wardens to provide guidance.
  • Clear, fair, transparent and equitable processes for funding.
  • Wardens representation in funding/decision-making processes.
  • Funding pools which reflect Māori Warden’s needs.
  • Simple reporting formats and application-based templates – “need to recognise that the majority of Māori Wardens are hands-on and not pen-pushers”.
  • “A better understanding of what our accountability requirements are and why they’re important”.

Funding, Resources and Reporting

Requests were made to simplify processes to access funding, and for additional resources including more vans, technology to support mobility (e.g. phones and/or tablets), and more information on community and agency supports.

Several requests were also made for reporting to be made less onerous/time-consuming, whilst acknowledging the need to ensure transparency and accountability.

I acknowledged that simplifying reporting was important, but also explained the value of reports, particularly in seeing the breadth of Māori Wardens’ activities in supporting whānau and communities in the Districts and across the country.

Warranting

There was general support for the Interim Warranting process, and it was felt that this was helping to attract new Wardens, as it didn’t take as long as past processes.  It was hoped that the process would be confirmed, and move from ‘interim’ to ‘final’.

There were some questions about whether warrants were even required for the work that the Wardens are currently doing.

Some Districts also referred to issues they were still encountering in progressing warrant applications through their District Māori Councils.

Relationships

Māori Wardens, particularly at District level, have multiple relationships based on the needs in their communities.

The relationship with the NZMC for some Māori Wardens is only when warranting is wanted or renewed every three years.

The relationships between Māori Wardens and NZ Police differ across Districts and Māori Wardens want this improved.  Māori Wardens would like to understand and respect what NZ Police do, and in turn would like NZ Police to understand what Māori Wardens do.

The relationships between Māori Wardens and Te Puni Kōkiri are generally good, but they’d like more help from Te Puni Kōkiri to become self-managing in the future.

Joint Advisory Group (JAG)

There were a number of queries made about the status of the Joint Advisory Group (JAG) established by the previous Minister for Māori Development, and whether these modernisation discussions picked up from the work they had done.  Some have asked for the JAG to be re-established, whilst others felt it had not been effective in keeping Māori Wardens updated on progress, and was no longer relevant.

I have recently written to the JAG members to thank them for their contributions, and advise that I am dissolving the JAG.  My preferred approach is to engage at the grassroots with Māori Wardens to discuss aspirations and needs, and determine together what options may best meet these.

Modernisation of Māori Wardens

Māori Wardens recognised that the functions expressed in the Act do not recognise the actual work they do.  There were numerous examples of other roles identified including support: for Māori, community and national events; in civil defence/ emergency management processes; of community initiatives (e.g. literacy classes); of rangatahi and whānau (navigating systems and assessing supports); and in providing cultural and pastoral support. 

A number of hui attendees expressed concern that the New Zealand Māori Council might not support their modernisation and/or increased autonomy.  Several felt that this was a significant risk, and would likely impact the retention and recruitment of Māori Wardens.  Sone attendees felt that, in the absence of direction or guidance from the Council, Māori Wardens have been self-managing for a number of years.

Modernisation of the Māori Wardens is seen as an opportunity to identify the range of supports that they need to undertake a variety of roles, and ensure there is strong planning for, management and resourcing of these.

What Māori Wardens want:

  • Their own Māori Wardens Act
  • A national organisation with representation from all Districts and/or generational coverage (including Māori Wardens that are kaumātua/lifetime members, pakeke/existing and rangatahi/pre-warranted)
  • More structured and supported Districts, with some decision-making authority (e.g. over selection/ warranting, training and resources)
  • Training and support to develop their independence/become self-managing
  • “To build a tree structure together, because sometimes a little bird must leave the nest”
  • Districts to choose their own Wardens (to nominate/recommend to the Minister for warranting)

Communications

The need for frequent and clear communications was identified, including a clear outline of the timeframes for discussions, action and change.  Hui participants felt this was needed as there were likely to be some frustrated with the lack of action (to address issues and make changes) “four Ministers later”.

More information on the options, in a presentation and/or discussion document, was suggested, as was the possibility of a Roadshow/series of regional hui.

Māori Wardens Conference

There were numerous proposals for a National Māori Wardens Conference in 2019, to allow time for fuller discussions on the options.

 

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