League out to block candidates for top jobs

By Yvonne Tahana

Destiny Church pastor Hannah Tamaki. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Destiny Church pastor Hannah Tamaki. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The Maori Women's Welfare League is toughening up its constitution to try to ensure only candidates approved by its national executive can stand for president.

The move comes after Hannah Tamaki, wife of Destiny Church bishop Brian Tamaki, successfully sought High Court backing to stand for the top job the league had effectively banned her from campaigning for ahead of this month's annual conference.

At the national hui, delegates will consider remits that include giving the executive the power to vet presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

League documents also outline that:

* Any Maori woman hoping to pass muster has to satisfy the executive that her presidential nomination won't affect the non-sectarian or non-party political nature of the league.

* The league's general manager can screen new branches and members. If she considers a group or individual "negatively" affects the league's "mana, integrity or kaupapa", the application will be passed on to the national executive to consider. Its decision will be final.

* Dismissal clauses for branches have also been extended so that when they are dismissed, all individual memberships cease.

* Potential members will have to supply their names, addresses and any additional information requested by the general manager.

League general manager Jacqui Te Kani did not respond to calls from the Herald.

However, interim president Mere Austin said delegates to the league's national conference would have a chance to debate the remits.

"They say aye or nay so it's a collective of women throughout the motu [country] in which direction those decisions are made.

"They have to talk to it ... There will be open debate," she said.

Ms Austin would not be drawn further on what she made of the proposals.

Mrs Tamaki said the rule changes reflected a mood among some members that she and other Destiny Church members weren't welcome.

"Let's be honest - they're already doing it. What they're doing is playing catch-up rugby.

"I'm hoping that a miracle can happen."

The league's founding president was the late Dame Whina Cooper. Her daughter Hine Puru - also a past executive member - said her mother would be aghast at the league's "draconian" moves, which she said amounted to a "power grab" by the general manager.

"I wouldn't like to be a new member of the league, not with all the bullying going on," Mrs Puru said.

"It's very nasty."

Mrs Puru said if the national executive was given the power to vet members, it would make the league an "elitist" organisation, which went against the wairua, or spirit, of the organisation.

- NZ Herald

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