March 17, 2014
Wardens part of Maori justice system
The New Zealand Maori Council says the special character of Maori wardens will be lost if they are split out from their district Maori councils.
The council is this week before the Waitangi Tribunal at Wellington’s Pipitea Marae putting its claim against the way the Government is trying to rewrite the Maori Community Development Act to make the wardens a separate entity.
Council co-chair Sir Taihakurei Durie says the set-up in recent years, where some wardens have come under the control of the Ministry for Maori Development with help from the police, is against the spirit and the letter of their Act.
He says wardens are appointed by their communities and they are accountable to their communities.
"They have a relationship with the police but they are not police, and they do not prosecute, they persuade. They are a very special type of person, and this is about the fundamental purpose under the Community Development Act whereby Maori people can set up and manage their own community policing system and eventually their own community justice system, and that’s what our people fought for in 1962 – and that’s what we are going to hold on to," Sir Taihakurei says.
He says any reform of the Maori Community Development Act must be led by the Maori Council and not the crown.
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