Rotorua and the nation's Maori Wardens want the "archaic" law governing the organisation changed so they can better help the communities they serve.

Rotorua's Gloria Hughes is national president of the New Zealand Maori Wardens Association and said the Maori Community Development Act 1962 was holding the organisation back and she was leading the group in their fight for greater independence.

Mrs Hughes said there was a petition circulated around Rotorua, and other cities where wardens operate, to gauge public support.

"We have been seeking independence for a long time," she said.


"I think that, in a lot of ways, the legislation suppresses Maori Wardens. We want to be more openly involved in supporting our communities."

She said the Act was developed around the time of 6pm closing and needed to be changed.

"People think we are just in town, but we are not.

"We have been sending our wardens out into the suburbs, to places like churches and schools, but have had to bring them back into town.

"It is because this archaic and dysfunctional document only permits us to work with Maori, and we think this is discriminatory because we want to be able to help everyone - Pakeha, Asian and everyone else," she said.

"It's 2014, and the environment has changed and so have people's behaviour.

"Issues like unemployment and poverty do not just affect Maori people."

She said the aim was independence from legislation and she was disappointed with the Government because, after five reviews of the legislation, nothing had changed.


"We have gathered about 2800 signatures in Rotorua so far, and we're sick of being told any review is being put on hold."

Mrs Hughes said the organisation would soon get in contact with Minister for Maori Development and Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell and ask for his support to review or repeal the legislation.

Mr Flavell said he was being briefed on the issue.

"I understand the issues being raised by Gloria because they've been raised in front of the Maori Affairs Select Committee," he said.

Mr Flavell said a review of the Act was initiated in 2009, which recommended comprehensive consultation before any changes were made. In September 2013, public consultation took place to ensure that the Act aligned with the community development aspirations of Maori, and that statutory arrangements supported their future plans, he said.

The New Zealand Maori Council took the Government to the Waitangi Tribunal over an alleged lack of consultation and that was still before the Tribunal, he said.