LEAGUE WAS FIRST TO USE
CARVED HOUSE AT WAITANGI
The Maori Women's Welfare League broke with tradition and wrote a new page in Waitangi's history on Saturday, February 4, when their conference opened in Kupe, the great carved meeting house. Seen by thousands of visitors including the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1953, since its opening in 1940. Kupe has never before been used as a conference hall. Flooded out of their meeting place in the Waitangi Maori hall on the south bank of the river, the Tai Tokerau Maori Women's Welfare League conference moved through the torrential rain to the carved house and settled down to business uplifted by the sense of a great occasion.
At every delegate's shoulder stood the carved representation of a Maori ancestor. Every speech during the morning paid tribute to the past and then turned to current affairs.
The change of venue was made only after lengthy discussion. Breaking with the tradition that women should not stand and speak in a carved house, caused a shaking of heads amongst a number of elders, with frequent reference to the already weeping sky and the possibility of worse to come.
The day was won by the spirit which initiated
and sustains the league, the desire and necessity to cope with present day problems of the Maori people.
Mrs Sue Te Tai (Waitemata) chaired the meeting. She was supported at the executive table by the Dominion President Mrs Whina Cooper, and by Miss Mira Petricevich, secretary to the Dominion Council. Miss Miriama Henare was secretary to the conference.
Delegates and observers were present from Waitemata, Whangarei, Aupouri, Rarawa, Rarawa ki Hokianga, Northern Hokianga, Whangaroa, Moerewa, and Kaikohe. Utakura was represented by Kaikohe. At roll call every nominated delegate was present.
The opening address was made by Mr B Souter, District Officer of the Maori Affairs Department, who outlined the activities of his department in housing, land development, education and welfare in the Tai Tokerau area. Most of the morning's work was devoted to speeches of welcome and discussion of routine domestic business in the course of which the Dominion President, Mrs Whina Cooper, and the Secretary to the Dominion Council. Miss Mira Petricevich, reviewed the activities of the league.
Remits were discussed in the afternoon session, which closed in the rain at 6.45 p.m.
Hampered by the continuous rain and sodden conditions underfoot, the commissariat department performed minor miracles in providing hot meals, innumerable cups of tea and bedding for upwards of 200 delegates and visitors.
During the evening a brief service was conducted in the hall which was used for sleeping quarters, by the Rev Mr Rakena, and matters of general concern were talked over until the early hours of the morning.