Māori warden honoured for services to community

Heniaka August dedicates her QSM to her late husband, a fellow Māori warden who served the people of Aotearoa.

Heniaka August, after receiving her QSM medal for services to Māori & Community.

Investiture ceremonies continue to flow in Wellington this week. Whaea Heniaka August, a Māori warden, was recognised for her invaluable services to her community, particularly in aiding those affected by Cyclone Gabielle.

Whaea Heniaka says when she received news of her recognition, she was shocked for this was an honour for work she and countless Māori wardens do every day.

“Why me? We were coming back from Cyclone Gabrielle in Heretaunga, and I said that to my late husband. Why me?”

For 18 years Whaea Heniaka August has been the lead coordinator of Ngāti Toa Porirua Māori wardens and coordinator for major events and crises like Cyclone Gabrielle.

Whaea Heniaka also provides advice to police recruits on working with Māori youth, especially in Porirua as that has been her biggest challenge thus far.

“We do all the prevention work because we know our police are so busy, so we’re there to help them. We’re having one or two problems out there but I can honestly say that Porirua has changed since we’ve started. As far as our rangatahi and as far as kaumatua, everyone is assisting one another.”

Having been awarded for her efforts and service to her people, Whaea Heniaka says there is no greater honour and shares this with her late husband. Her only motivation now is that one day her grandchildren will heed the call and join the Ngāti Toa Māori warden unit, someday.

“When they’re ready. I don’t believe in pushing people. If they wish to become a Māori warden, then they will become a Māori warden.”