23 Oct 2013

Melbourne Maori Wardens eye NZ cash

6:41 am on 23 October 2013

The Victoria Maori Wardens in Australia officially launch on 2 November and say the group will be appealing to New Zealand's High Commissioner in Canberra for financial support.

The group was established last year in July as a not-for-profit organisation after kaumatua were concerned about the number of Maori youths involved in petty crimes.

Since then 82 Maori Wardens have been sworn in.

State branch chairman James Hohepa Smith says he wants to talk to the High Commissioner about what can be done to financially support the volunteers.

He says it is important the High Commissioner knows about the benefits of having the wardens patrol the streets with the Victoria police on Friday and Saturday nights, watching out for wayward rangatahi.

Mr Smith says local businesses are donating free power generators, portaloos and insurance cover for the official launch.

He says a large contingent of Queensland Maori Wardens will also be there to tautoko (support) the work of their Victorian counterparts.

Meanwhile, in Kaitaia police say they would welcome more Maori wardens patrolling the streets with them in the Far North.

Mr Smith says he was recently told by two Kaitaia police officers there were not enough of the volunteers keeping an eye on rangatahi in that town.

Mr Smith also reported a decline of wardens in the rohe.

However, the Maori Council says Northland has the highest number of Maori wardens in the country.

The police sub-area commander of Te Hiku area, Jeff Ryan, says if more wardens want to walk the beat with them, the door is always open.

He says he acknowledges how valuable the volunteers are in the community, especially during events like tangihanga.