Life membership for founding member

A Timaru woman who has dedicated much of her life to Maori affairs has been recognised with a special award.

Phyllis Hilet, the founding member of the Timaru Maori Women's Welfare League, has been awarded a life membership to the organisation.

"It is an honour to receive the award. It recognises the work I have done," she said.

Mrs Hilet formed the league in June 1977.

"In late 1964 my family moved to Temuka and in 1965 I joined the Arowhenua Maori Women's League."

When she moved to Timaru the following year she was asked to begin a league in her new hometown.

"I wasn't too keen at the beginning as I wanted to go back to the Arowhenua league but I did it," she said, with a smile.

The league began with a good number and has been consistent ever since, she said.

"We've never been a really big group but there's always been between 12 to 20 members.

"The league's membership is 13 at the moment."

The group aims to encourage the holistic well-being of Maori and to encourage the promotion of on-going education and training.

It also assists victims of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders, and promotes the understanding of women of all races.

"And over the years we have made panels.

"One was given to the Timaru District Council and another is in the Temuka Library."

The group is also involved with Meals on Wheels.

The diligent woman was also actively involved in the community in the 1980s as a Maori Community Officer.

"I was appointed an officer by Duncan McIntyre and then by Koro Wetere, the minister of Maori affairs, on the recommendation of the Arowhenua branch of the Maori women's league."

Her role involved working with high schools from Geraldine to Pareora promoting education, as well as placing students on Maori apprenticeships in Christchurch.

"And I also worked with the probation officer in Timaru."

A voluntary position, she had thoroughly enjoyed her time as an officer.


The Timaru Herald