Street Guardian Hope sitting on a bench smiling outside of Auckland City Mission - Te Tāpui Atawhai

Monday 10 July 2023

Being a Street Guardian gives Hope confidence and work experience

Every Tuesday and Thursday, up to 12 Mission clients spend the day supporting community organisations. People gather outside the community dining room, Haeata, to be briefed on the day ahead, then head out to a range of activities. These wonderful people are Street Guardians; they go out into our community as kaitiakitanga, protectors of our natural environment. This in partnership with Heart of the City, and supported by Ministry of Social Development.

Being a Street Guardian is a much sought-after role and there is always a waiting list of people wanting to join. The team works alongside eco-hubs EcoMatters and the Kaipātiki Project to dig, plant, weed, rake, build and generally nurture conservation projects. They also help out at Tipping Point, the shop at the Waitākere Refuse and Recycling Transfer Station, by sorting donations.

One of our most enthusiastic Street Guardians is 24-year-old Hope (Ngāpuhi) who has been part of the project for the past two years.

Hope grew up in Northland and moved to Auckland after the sudden loss of her foster parent. Living on the streets in a new city left her feeling very lonely and she was drawn to Street Guardians for the companionship it offered.

“I love Street Guardians; we always have good days. The cool part about it is that we all work together and that’s a nice feeling, being part of a group. It’s also really nice to be in nature, it’s peaceful.

“The best part is at the end of the day when we’ve finished a big job and you stop and see how great it looks. Knowing we did that together is cool.

Our Street Guardians receive a cooked breakfast, a packed lunch, transport to and from site, and $80 each day. For many, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with the workforce after illness or injury, or a break from life on the street.

For Hope, it’s a sense of belonging and the chance to gain confidence in her work skills and herself. With the support of the Mission, she has secured an apartment for herself and is enjoying connecting with her Māori culture. She especially likes rāranga/weaving.

Tamia Eruera (Ngāti Whātua) is Kaitiaki o nga Ngāhere (Guardian of the Forest) at the Kaipatiki Project and says she loves working with the Street Guardians.

“The crew is very eager and willing to do any kind of mahi. They’re very keen to learn about the benefits of what we’re doing, and they are always very respectful.”

There is a great sense of camaraderie amongst kaimahi, and together they make a huge contribution towards keeping our city looking beautiful.


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