NZ Maori Wardens Conference - Horomia Speech
Hon Parekura Horomia Speech Notes
Keynote Address To
NZ Maori Wardens 23rd National Conference
(Delivery Time 7pm Friday 16 November, Orakei Marae, Auckland )
Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today and for the kind words accorded to me on the happy occasion of your Association’s conference.
It is important for an organisation to gather from time to time to discuss work, and plan for the future. It is equally important just to catch up with one another and form new, or consolidate old, relationships. This conference provides a good opportunity to pursue these things - so enjoy it, and make the most it.
I am constantly amazed by the amount, and wide range, of work that our Wardens perform nowadays:
walking the streets;
notification of bereavements;
working in courts and other parts of the justice system;
providing programmes and other assistance to youth-at-risk;
helping out whanau in need;
addressing truancy problems;
in some areas, providing security for local bodies, businesses and hospitals; and
providing our marae with invaluable support.
This list is by no means complete – but even so it is a very impressive list. To me, it demonstrates quite clearly the answer to any question as to whether we still need Mäori Wardens. The answer has to be “Yes”. Wardens should exist for as long as there is a need for them.
But I know, as I’m sure you know, that your existence is not an easy one - and that there are currently obstacles in your way:
Mäori Community Development Act, which provides for the
appointment and powers of Wardens, is in need of updating.
This Act still has for example, Wardens taking car keys and
kicking Mäori out of hotels. A lot of the mahi you
currently perform on a day to day basis should be included
in the Act.
Secondly: the District Mäori Council structure, which has responsibility and oversight of Wardens, does not work well for Wardens in all areas.
Thirdly: in some areas, there are differences of opinions between various groups of Wardens – between some belonging to this Association and others not.
Fourthly: you work on a shoestring, - if that. I am told that many of you pay cash out of your own pocket to perform your Warden’s duties.
I, and my officials, have met with many Wardens to work out how these problems might be addressed - and I think it is vital that we all continue to work together to remove the obstacles - so that you can get on with your mahi.
But I think it is fair to say that there are many different ways that we could sort these things out, and, there are probably vastly different opinions among us as to the best way to do it.
So, rather than offer “my way”, I want to ask you to think about the broader issues around your purpose – your reason for being – and to let me know what that is.
I would suggest that the starting point for this is your motto “aroha ki te tangata”. For me, this says it all. And, from what I know of Wardens, it underlines all the work that you do for our people – and it is the reason that you are Wardens.
So, thinking about that:
What are the roles of Wardens in modern society?
What is the work that best suits you?
Who should Wardens be responsible to?
How should Wardens in our communities be organised to support our communities?
How can our communities and our government support Wardens to assist them to do their work?
If we can answer these questions then I think the future roles, responsibilities, structures, administration and support of Wardens will become a lot more clear.
Having said this, I acknowledge that we can’t spend all our time “just thinking about it”. At some stage soon we are going to need to find a way forward for Wardens that achieves support from Wardens themselves and our Mäori communities. The Mäori Community Development Act does need to be amended and updated, and the Wardens provisions within it are a priority.
The Act is currently under review, and we are building on the quite considerable work that has been done on it over the past few years. Indeed, a number of you may already have had input into the review. We want to make sure that any changes and reforms to the Act will be relevant today, and be flexible enough to provide for the future.
I will be expecting my officials to soon provide me with ideas on these things. So I am here to listen to you.
If we are to make changes that will be relevant now, and will last into the future, as many of us as possible need to have input and ultimately be happy with the results. That is our challenge.