A voluntary community patrol called the Indian Wardens is setting out to keep the streets of Papatoetoe safe and to support local businesses.
Founded by Rana Judge, manager of Ōtara Business Association and Papatoetoe Mainstreet, the group has received support and funding from Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board.
Rana says running the group is about giving back to an area that he dearly loves.
“I’ve been attached to this community for a while now and I love working with the community. It is a very multicultural area and I see a lot of people who really need help and so I like doing what I can for the people here.”
Having worked closely with police to help reduce crime around the Ōtara Town Centre, Rana turned his attention to Papatoetoe late last year, starting the Indian Wardens.
The group, which receives funding from the Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board, is currently made up of 12 individuals who patrol during business hours, assisting business owners and shoppers in the area as well as reporting suspicious behaviour to Police.
Rana says it has already reaped results.
“The feedback we’ve got is that the community is so happy with this,” he says.
“When we started there were a lot of issues in Papatoetoe, particularly with many cars being broken in to or stolen. But since we’ve been doing this we haven’t heard of any cars being stolen.”
Rana says another positive aspect from the establishment of the wardens has been the opportunity for Papatoeote’s diverse cultural groups to work together.
“We worked together with the Māori Wardens at the Santa Parade and the Culture Diversity Festival,” he says.
“The feedback has been that they loved working together. We have some issues in this area with different groups fighting together, but the beauty of this is that it has helped different cultural groups to work together.”
Rana says the motivation for the wardens, like him, is primarily their pride for the area.
“We are just doing this from our heart because of our pride in the area and our pride in being able to help someone.”