Maori Warden Jenny Katene-Morgan. PHOTO/FILE

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

Wairarapa Maori Wardens are a group of 15 volunteers of which Jenny Katene-Morgan has been the chairwoman for the past four years.

The motto of the Wardens is “Aroha ki te tangata – For the love of the people”.

Katene-Morgan sees the role of the Maori Wardens as a service to the whole community and not just Maori.

They have been present at large events such as Bishop Waitohiariki Quayle’s ordination as an Anglican Bishop, Golden Shears, Maori Women’s Welfare League National Conference 2019, and National Regional Kapa Haka competitions.

This is voluntary work and sometimes a koha [donation] is received for their services.

The wardens work closely with Wairarapa Police and have regular meetings with Maori liaison officer Joe Harwood.

Katene-Morgan is by adoption the daughter of the late Dave Morgan, a well-known unionist.

Her dad led the Seafarers Union [now the Maritime Union].

This is where Katene-Morgan’s “sense of justice” and “fighting for the underdog” came from.

She said they would often laugh about her looking like the police in uniform.

“My parents fully supported my Maori heritage and my involvement with the Maori Wardens.”

She said a big part of the job was working alongside the community.

There have been occasions where wardens have de-escalated a situation just by “being present” and speaking to the parties concerned.

“We aim for a relaxed approach and this can work well in a situation where police are present.

“I do feel there is mana in being a Maori Warden because there is so much history.”

The Maori Wardens have been around since 1860.

They are legislated under an Act of Parliament – The Maori Community Development Act 1962.

Warrants are issued by the Minister of Maori Development.

They are not police, but have legal responsibilities under the Māori Community Development Act 1962, Sections 30-35.

Among their powers are retention of car keys from an intoxicated person.

Today there are about 900 Maori Wardens who volunteer their time throughout New Zealand.

  • National Volunteer Week, celebrating the work of volunteers and charities, ran from Sunday, June 21 to Saturday, June 27