Wardens exemplify manaakitanga

Recent events have reminded me of the ongoing and valuable contribution our elders are making in communities and within our whanau throughout the country.

In the most trying of times their wisdom, courage and tenacity is the backbone of our communities and families.

The lifelong contribution and commitment by our elders to imparting their knowledge has ensured many of the next generation know their cultural responsibilities and obligations.

I believe that one of the most significant resources we have is the precious gift of our koroua, our kuia, our kaumātua.

The gift of leadership as held by the wisdom of our elders represents a rich pool of knowledge and experience of what Whānau Ora means in practice.

Our elders remind us what we have always known it is about believing in ourselves; restoring the sense of trust and belief that represents the wellbeing of whānau.

As whānau look within themselves for solutions, we must do so with the faith that our kaumātua often provide the pathway to achieving the wellbeing we all yearn for.

It is also true that many of our community organisations are only possible because of the effort of those who continue to contribute their time and knowledge long after they have retired from working.

One of the unsung heroes of the Christchurch earthquake are the Maori Wardens who travelled from far and wide to assist our whanau.

At last count, 2800 households were visited by Māori Wardens to identify and respond to needs.

Their role was in conducting the family and community outreach by doorknocking in the affected suburbs to identify needs, provide emotional support/reassurance and distribute food and water.

At a time when people were suffering the greatest these wonderful kaumatua and kuia were right there, without even having to be asked – offering their love and strength to help our whanau survive.

The wardens exemplify manaakitanga in all that they do.

There are not many events or gathering of people where you don’t see the presence of Maori wardens whether it is a tangi or a concert. Always at the forefront is their belief in aroha ki te tangata.

Watene Maori are often retired but devote much of their time voluntarily to supporting their own communities and other communities if the need arises.

Their presence can often be the calming influence where there is potential for trouble or where a situation is getting heated. More often than not they are picking people up, brushing them off and helping them get back on their feet.

They are often out late at night helping keep our young people safe by getting them home; supporting whanau who’s loved ones may be in hospital or have had an accident or just supporting a local event to ensure the event runs smoothly.

For many of us their calm and soothing voice during the most chaotic of times reminds us to take the time to remember who and what is really important.