May 19, 2020
Maori wardens better option for COVID response
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A leading Māori lawyer says the Government could have saved itself a fight if it had remembered the Māori wardens.
Annette Sykes says the idea of allowing police to go on to marae without a warrant to enforce COVID-19 restrictions may have been well intentioned, but it ignored the sensitivity Māori have about the tapu of the marae, and the historical context.
She says Māori wardens already have statutory power to operate in similar ways to police in some cases, and they have the trust of the people.
"When a Māori warden comes up and tells me to park my car over there, I listen. When a Māori warden would tell me 'look mate, there's a limit of 100 people at this tangihanga, you'll have to wait,' I'd listen. I don't know why they didn't do something as practical as that," she says.
The Act has to be reconfirmed in 90 days, and Annette Sykes says she wull lobby her local MPs on ways to improve it.
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