Māori organisation's 65 year legacy of 'loyalty and commitment'

Taranaki's Tiahuia Abraham has been a member of the Māori Women's Welfare League for 46 years.
Deena Coster

Taranaki's Tiahuia Abraham has been a member of the Māori Women's Welfare League for 46 years.

In 1951, a trailblazing group of Māori women came together under the kaupapa of helping their people.

This year, the Māori Women's Welfare League (MWWL) will mark its 65th annual conference, providing its members with a chance to reflect on their successes and look ahead to the future.

More than 3000 women belong to the MWWL in New Zealand, 500 of which will attend the national conference which will be held in New Plymouth from September 27 to 30.

A photograph of the first meeting of the Māori Women's Welfare League held in Wellington in 1951.
Deena Coster

A photograph of the first meeting of the Māori Women's Welfare League held in Wellington in 1951.

Aotea branch member Tiahuia Abraham, of Waitara, first joined the league 46 years ago and assists in the nationwide effort to improve the lot of Māori on a spiritual, cultural, social and economic level.

"I am a very strong advocate, not just for Māori women but for all women," Abraham said.

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​The grassroots work MWWL is involved with includes helping people with housing, employment and education, while also focusing on the promotion of Te Reo Māori and encouragement for the tikanga and traditions of the indigenous culture to be upheld.

"That's what the league's kaupapa is all about," she said.

Abraham said the league was also active in encouraging  its members to take on leadership roles, something she had directly benefited from.

MWWL paid for Abraham to attend a Massey University leadership course, skills she had put to good use in the various roles she had undertaken, including as former president of the Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women's Association.

"I do acknowledge the league and all that it has done for me."

While there was a big push for a younger crop of members to come through, Abraham said the contribution made by kuia around the country throughout the history of the organisation remained a key inspiration.

"Sixty five years is about loyalty and commitment.  That's the legacy that these aunties have left us."

​About 1000 people are expected for the pōwhiri on September 27, before the conference is formally opened by Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

 - Stuff

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