Hannah Tamaki exclusion review underway

By Yvonne Tahana

Destiny Church pastor Hannah Tamaki. Photo / NZ Herald
Destiny Church pastor Hannah Tamaki. Photo / NZ Herald

A judicial review in Hannah Tamaki's exclusion from the Maori Women's Welfare League presidential election is underway in the High Court at Wellington.

Mrs Tamaki, the wife of Bishop Brian Tamaki, is seeking a declaration from court that she be reinstated in the race.

The MWWL suspended Mrs Tamaki's bid and began an investigation into constitutionality of 10 church-aligned branches to see whether they breached the league's non-sectarian requirements.

Justice Stephen Kos said this morning he had formed tentative views on Mrs Tamaki's exclusion.

He said he wanted to hear from Mrs Tamaki's lawyer, Hayden Wilson, on whether the 10 branches were constitutionally formed.

Three other self-identified Destiny branches are also affected by the suspension.

"From that you will infer that my tentative view of Mrs Tamaki is that she is an eligible candidate for the presidency and that the exclusion of ... existing branches may well be unlawful," Justice Kos said.

Mrs Tamaki did not attend, however the gallery was packed with members from all over the country and the jury box was filled with past presidents including Aroha Reriti-Crost and current vice-president Mere Austin.

The 10 branches in question are all affiliated to the Tamaki-Makaurau/Auckland region.

However Justice Kos questioned Mr Wilson how it was that branches could have "substantial" members from Australia, Taranaki, Hamilton and Nelson.

Those branches were constituted in "one fell swoop" at the Destiny Church's headquarters in Mt Wellington.

Mr Wilson said there was nothing in the constitution to prevent that scenario from happening.

Justice Kos said it was "remarkable" that all 10 branches had between 91 to 93 members, which appeared to maximise the number of votes each branch - 10 - would receive to participate in the election.

Mr Wilson said the question of what number of votes each branch should have was not before the court.

Justice Kos disagreed and said because Mr Wilson was asking the court to rule on Mrs Tamaki's exclusion it was a question "squarely" before him.

Maori Women's Welfare League lawyer Alan Knowsley said the branches' establishment had a "fishy smell" about them.

The 10 branches were established after Mrs Tamaki's nomination.

They would potentially give Mrs Tamaki 139 votes.

Mr Knowsley was scathing of that establishment process.

He said those votes could be used in a bloc manner for a takeover bid of the league.

If the league had not decided to investigate the constitutionality issue it would have effectively been "completely toothless to protect the mana of the league", which had been built up over 50-60 years.

Justice Kos is expected to make a decision tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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