Wardens on patrol

Maree Paparoa loves Cambridge so much she volunteered to cop the odd abuse and terse word because “it’s my town.”

Maree is part of the Cambridge Māori warden presence at Cambridge Raceway directing traffic to the Rapid Antigen Tests (Rats) Community Collection Site at Cambridge Raceway.

Here to help: Cambridge Māori wardens are helping people collect their free Rapid Antigen Tests at Cambridge Raceway, from left, Aaron Wilson, Maree Paparoa, Alizeyah, 6, of Cambridge East Primary School and Nate Ngatai.

She also helped at vaccination sites in Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Putāruru, Wellington and Palmerston North.

Three wardens from a pool of 11 will be on the Raceway site seven days a week for the next four months on a voluntary basis directing traffic.

The first day on March 1 was an “absolute shambles,” she admits.

“We recognised the problem, we sorted it out. Turns out we had no cones, no system. The first day, cars were going around in loops. By day three we were on top of everything.”

Most of the comment on social media has been glowing with the odd niggly word while on site, the biggest problem has been people trying to come in through the exit and going direct to the Waikato DHB staff issuing the Rats tests.

“They say things like ‘but we ordered online.’ It doesn’t matter, they need to go in the entrance,” says Maree.

The other problem is the portable electronic sign in Taylor St with its six messages contradicting the other before it. The message changes every couple of seconds from No right turn, to Join the queue with an arrow pointing right, to Straight Ahead, to All other Raceway Traffic, to Rats Traffic Only to Into Gate.

Maree said she had asked for the sign to be changed as it was causing confusion.

Meanwhile it was a poignant day for Maree and her family on Sunday as they remembered her mother Mere Devine who died on March 7 last year.

She had led the Cambridge Māori wardens since 1972.

“I got handed that responsibility by Mum,” says Maree.

While the one year anniversary would usually be a time for an unveiling, that is on hold until the whole whānau can come together, she said.

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