Aroha Reriti-Crofts joined the Māori Women's Welfare League in 1968 because she wanted to be something more than "just being a housewife".

Fast forward more than 50 years and Reriti-Crofts is today being made a dames companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit recognising her services to Māori and the community.

She served a term as the Māori Women's Welfare League's National and International President from 1990 to 1993 and is a life member of the Ōtautahi branch.

Reriti-Crofts gave an interview to Te Karaka magazine in 2018 for an article marking the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in New Zealand


She said she joined the league in 1968 as a single mother of four children.

"I decided I wanted something more than just being a housewife", she told Te Karaka.

After a conversation with an aunty who was "a very staunch league member", it was decided that she would join the Ōtautahi branch, she told the magazine.

"I listened to other people talking. I believe the observer learns a lot just sitting and listening and watching, and I learned all those beautiful things of how to express oneself."

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Reriti-Crofts was inspired when she attended a national conference in Auckland watching then president Hine Pōtaka speak.

"She just blew me away – this beautiful lady – and I thought, 'One day I'm going to be just like you' – you dream these wonderful dreams," she told Te Karaka.

In the 1993 New Year Honours she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire recognising her services to Māori.

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Since then, Reriti-Crofts has also been a trustee, director and chairwoman of Māori Women's Development Inc.

The incorporation is a unique indigenous financial institution for the economic development of Māori women and their whānau, including providing loans to enable them to enter into business.

Meanwhile Reriti-Crofts is also helping to culturally advise and guide developers in the re-build of Christchurch in her role as Matapopore Charitable Trust chairwoman.

The trust considers it is breaking new ground for indigenous cultures to influence the design of a city and ensure traditional values are woven into its urban environment.