These are the words of Teone Te Rangi (Rongomaiwahine) who has been working with his team of 12 from the Flaxmere Māori Wardens over the past six weeks to assist their region respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Published: Thursday, 7 May 2020 | Rāpare, 07 Haratua, 2020
Māori Wardens have been aiding and working in collaboration with Hastings District Council, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Te Kupenga Hauora, Heretaunga Intermediate, MSD and other agencies to ensure whānau get the support they need during this time.
Over the past weeks they’ve provided over 1000 kai packs and delivered Chromebooks to tamariki across the region as well assisting the Police to navigate difficult, but pertinent kaupapa to Māori as Teone explains.
“It’s been very busy since the beginning of the lockdown,” he says.
“Some people think that Māori Wardens only park cars, but we’ve worked with a number of agencies to provide support and negotiate assistance for our whānau.
“The past six weeks has opened a window of opportunity to get out and provide essential services and get assistance out to our people and community.”
Teone says that whānau have been nothing but genuinely grateful and generally overwhelmed by the support.
“We go in to the hub, help put the packs together, packs are made up to suite a household, and then we go and deliver them,” he says.
“We do our best to get out amongst our community and are always trying to provide support for them and reassure them that help is there for them.
“It’s an eye opener for the agencies who work with Wardens, we now have their support and they recognise the breadth of the services of the Māori Wardens and the role they can play in the response to Covid-19.”
The Wardens helped facilitate a response to a tangihanga where over 60 people attended the urupā, despite being asked by the whānau to not attend says Teone.
“Just last week, Police received a call expecting many people to attend a tangihanga and they called us in to support them to ensure that there was no contact between people and ensure that there were no issues,” he says.
“Our job was to guide whānau up to the urupā which we normally do and ensure that our whānau observed the rules for physical distancing and work with the Police and whānau.
“Obviously it’s hard for the whānau, but luckily for the Wardens we have done our training to help us to identify issues beforehand and to work with the Police to ensure that all of our whānau are safe.
“We’ll keep working for as long as it takes – as long as people keeping ringing us up for assistance, we’ll keep on going out. It’s just what we do,” Teone says.