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A one-hour documentary explores the behind the scenes reality of grass roots Māori Wardens, tracing their history to the present day, and following them in their daily lives across Aotearoa.

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

Producer and director Susan Leonard says much of the work of a Māori warden goes unseen.

“This documentary uncovers the behind-the-scenes truth of the voluntary service they provide - for the love of their people, says Ms Leonard.

“Like many people, I didn’t know what Māori Wardens really did,” she 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.

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.

“We touch on deeper questions regarding a Māori world view in opposition to the Crown and within the Māori Wardens themselves, who have not always seen eye to eye.

“The movement faces a huge challenge, but my intention was not to focus on the complex political issues but rather, to concentrate on the true essence of a Māori Warden and why their community work matters so much,” says Susan Leonard.

MĀORI WARDENS is full of humour and heart and doesn’t shy away from the struggles facing Māori Wardens, in the past and today.