June 22, 2020
Warden law defence for iwi checkpoints
Ikaroa Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri says any questions over the legality of iwi road checks can be resolved by bringing them under Māori councils and wardens.
New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball has a Bill in the ballot seeking to force police to automatically clear away any such roadblocks, which he says are absolutely illegal.
But Ms Whaitiri says she understands why iwi felt the need to monitor the movement of travellers during the COVID Level 4 lockdown, especially in the parts of her electorate around East Cape.
She says the Māori Community Development Act provides powers for Māori councils to look after the welfare of their communities, including through the activities of wardens.
"We offer the option for those that stood on the checkpoints, and these weren't Māori wardens, these were young people from those communities, from Ruatōria, from Te Araroa, to contemplate the possibility of becoming Māori wardens themselves to give them extra coverage but also to strengthen their communities," Ms Whaitiri says.
Meka Whaitiri says at least a dozen of those young people on the checkpoints have subsequently started training to become Māori wardens.
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