Twenty-senior Waikato police officers attended a wānanga at the Rangiriri battle site earlier this week. It was an opportunity to learn about the history of Waikato-Tainui and gain a deeper understanding of the communities they serve from an iwi perspective.
Restoration of the trenches at Rangiriri was completed this year as a reminder of the critical battle fought in 1863 during the New Zealand Wars.
The wānanga followed a visit by the district police leadership team to the Rangiriri battle site two months ago.
The police officers said they found the visit very inspirational.
Police are working on developing a greater understanding of the iwi and communities they serve. Wānanga are also a professional development opportunity for police staff to improve on and build their cultural competency.
Rangiriri Pā site lead Brad Totorewa says they discussed five ways to improve their work in the community to benefit everyone.
A way to work together
"After that, our leader, Tukoroirangi Morgan, arrived and he said to the officers that Waikato is concerned about what is happening now. So Waikato wants to work with the police. He told them: 'Waikato is not your enemy, Waikato is your close friend'. So the officers liked what these leaders said. At the end of the day, they found a way forward that's working together.
"One of the officers uttered the words of Te Wherowhero: 'Through the eye of the needle passes the white thread, the black thread and the red thread. Hold on to hope'. I said to them: 'It threads through but make sure you don't get pricked. The most important thing is the needle itself weaving Māori and police together".
Totorewa says in his experience with the police, they don't show emotion. "I think they're there but in their line of work they don't shed many tears. He says they were almost brought to tears but they didn't cry. "I don't know why but they're strong."
"When we went to the old fortified village they loosened up, they let their guards down and they could understand what they were seeing and feeling. The emotions were there but they didn't show. When we have other visitors, they cry, but not the police. It must come with working in the police force. They enjoyed the day, they learned a lot. Even though I didn't see a single tear, I know they felt it."