Regional | Documentary

Māori Wardens: A story of love and compassion

Photo / Supplied

The behind the scenes reality of grassroots Māori Wardens is set to be revealed in a documentary to screen on Whakaata Māori.

Māori Wardens follows them in their daily lives across Aotearoa.

“Like many people, I didn’t know what Māori Wardens really did,” the documentary's producer and director Susan Leonard (Te Arawa, Rangitāne) says.

“I saw them as guardian angels, kind people, keeping the peace, but after working on this documentary I realise they are all that and more."

Leonard says Māori Wardens is a story of love and compassion, not only for their own people, but for their entire communities, regardless of race.

“Māori Wardens more often shy away from the limelight, these are the unsung heroes who tell their stories. It is intriguing watching their selfless work and to reflect that, perhaps today we need their service more than ever.

“From the two nannies in Taihape who still walk the beat on a Friday night, to Aunty Chrissie who runs an op shop for the homeless, to Peggy Hughes who founded the first North Shore Māori Wardens, and this year celebrates her 50th anniversary as a warden."

The one-hour documentary is full of humour and doesn’t shy away from the struggles facing Māori Wardens in the past and today, she says.

Leonard says her intention was to focus on the true essence of a Māori Warden and why their community work matters so much.

Māori Wardens premieres on Monday 27 March at 8.30 PM on Whakaata Māori and MĀORI+.