BIG NEWS: The story behind Hannah Tamaki's bid for the Maori Women’s Welfare League presidency

Monday, July 25, 2011

The story behind Hannah Tamaki's bid for the Maori Women’s Welfare League presidency

There has been a lot of coverage about Destiny Church pastor Hannah Tamaki’s bid to be the president of the Maori Women’s Welfare League (MMWL), which at the end of May had 2850 members.

This post outlines that payments for 921 new MWWL subscriptions were paid through a Destiny Church- affiliated taxpayer-funded Urban Maori Authority, in a failed attempt to get the maximum votes for Hannah Tamaki’s presidency bid.

The 10 branches were formed just hours before several Maori MPs were asked for Whanau Ora funding at the same conference - for the very fund that the MMWL subscriptions were subsequently paid from.

Tamaki’s mother was a member of the MWWL, and Tamaki herself is not only a member but is the president of the Wahine Toa branch. This branch is one of three affiliated to Destiny church through its Urban Maori Authority, Te Runanga A Iwi O Te Oranga Ake. This UMA was given $850,000 for government contracts for social services, but the funding has now dried up.

As the Church cannot secure contracts for social services, Tamaki probably decided that becoming president of the MWWL may do the trick and secure contracts, but she needed the votes. There were 1100 women at Destiny’s annual conference on 4 June, and 921 of them - including Winston Peters' mother sister - were signed up to the League through 10 different newly formed branches all at the same time. All had between 91-93 members. A branch has to have 91 financial members to secure the maximum of 10 votes for the Presidency – so 90 extra votes for Tamaki out of 430 votes. A branch of 90 has just 5 votes, and a branch of 10, 1 vote.

However all membership fees, totalling more than $9200, were paid by one inter-bank transfer by Destiny Church – through Te Oranga Ake, who got their funding from the taxpayer. It appears however that all members were invoiced and have apparently paid their MMWL fees to Destiny Church.

So it was clear that this Destiny conference setup was done to stack votes for Hannah Tamaki’s presidency bid by well over 25 per cent , just as it was clear that Maori MPs were invited to the same conference on the same day to secure Whanau Ora funding.

However none of the 10 MMWL branches were financial as at 30 June, the date the ballot papers were sent out for the presidency, missing Tamaki’s name. Tamaki took the League to court as her name was removed, and it was revealed that the 10 branches subscriptions were paid from 1 July 2011. So while members in the new branches cannot vote, the three financial members affiliated to Destiny church can – and the court has decided that Tamaki’s name will be on the ballot paper, one of eight candidates.

Tamaki has pledged to resign from her pastoral role at Destiny should she win, and also to donate her entire presidential salary to the league.

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