Māori Women's Welfare League keep silent on GM's departure

By Ripeka Timutimu

The General Manager of the Māori Women's Welfare League is leaving her job, and the league is keeping silent on the reasons for her departure.

Awhimai Reynolds has been at the helm of the league since March 2013.  The league isn't saying why she's left, however Te Kāea spoke to one member who is disillusioned by the league and its current direction.

For seven years, Ata Te Kanawa has been part of the Māori Women's Welfare League, but now she wants out.

She says, “I would have loved to have brought a whole lot of wāhine with me, but now with what’s happened I’m no longer interested in being a member.  I think that it no longer offers anything to me let alone wāhine that are younger than me.”

Formed in Wellington in 1951, the league went on to become involved in housing, health and family issues.  Owner of a Māori fashion movement, Miromoda, Te Kanawa says, the league held huge credibility.

“I’d have to say I was prompted to join the league because of the people in my branch, the central city branch here in wellington and awhimai was part of our rōpū,” says Te Kanawa.

Two emails obtained by Te Kāea show that on November 30, President Prue Kapua wrote to members informing them that General Manager, Awhimai Reynolds was on leave.

"The General Manager, Awhimai Reynolds, is currently on leave and the National Executive has appointed Materoa Dodd as acting General Manager."

By January, another e-mail from the President was sent, telling members, Reynolds was out the door.

"This panui is to advise that as from 13 Hui-tanguru 2015, Awhimai Reynolds will no longer be working for Te Rōpu Wahine Māori Toko i te Ora.  We wish Awhimai well in her future endeavours. The Kaiwhakahaere/General Manager position will be advertised at the beginning of February."

Te Kanawa says, “I got to know them and got to like what she does and so when she became general manager I was convinced that the league was going to take a different direction and lead us into the 21st century.”

Te Kāea has made several attempts to get a response from the league on this issue, however remains unsuccessful.

“It’s supposed to be founded on tātou tātou and in my experience as a contractor I didn’t find that that was synonymous with the league and I don't think my mum or nana would be pleased that I was in that environment, I just don’t think it’s me anymore,” says Te Kanawa.

Materoa Dodd is the interim General Manager, and a new appointment process is to begin at the start of February.