The Circular banner

March-April 2023, Issue 640

| Action Hubs | News | GenderEqual NZ |
Making gender equality, reality.

Download as .pdf file

Suzanne Manning October 2022

President's kōrero

Tēnā tātou katoa,

To state the obvious, this is election year in Aotearoa.

As such, the Action Hubs are switching gears from focusing on upcoming policy – which tends to slow down in the few months prior to an election – to encouraging people to use their democratic right to vote.

A reminder that our position at NCWNZ is that we are “a-political”, meaning that we:

  • Do NOT support one party more than another
  • Do NOT tell anyone who to vote for
  • DO support women to run as political candidates
  • DO promote women’s issues as topics for election debates
  • DO support people to exercise their democratic right to vote.

Looking internally, the Board is pleased to indicate that we are expecting a break-even financial year, maybe even a small surplus. We took a bit of a risk last year when we set “you choose” membership fees, but this is what the membership wanted in order to make NCWNZ accessible to everyone and that risk has paid off. Members have been realistic and generous, and we thank you all for that. As we move into a new financial year, we will be asking people to renew their annual memberships (thank you to all those who have set up a regular monthly payment) – we look forward to seeing all of you back with us for this coming year, along with lots of your friends.

It’s also time for our annual reporting cycle. This involves asking for reports from all parts of the organisation, so that we can produce an annual report, and provide annual financial statements that can be reviewed, all in time for you to review before the AGM which – all going well – will be held on Saturday 23 September 2023, from 10 am - 12 pm. This requires a huge team effort, and YOU are part of that team. Please try and provide information by the requested deadlines. This makes a big difference to whether we can deliver the reporting on time. We want the annual report to be something that showcases the fabulous work of NCWNZ, and gives people good reason to want to join us.

As we go into winter, spare a smile for others to help us keep each other warm. 😊

Some of what's happening at local branches

Logo for UN Decade of Healthy AgeingNCWNZ Tauranga has initiated a collaborative project to provide a platform for the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing Tauranga community activities. The work of the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030) aims to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live.

The project in Tauranga brings focus and action that will enhance Elder wellbeing in our communities. The four key themes include:

  1. Changing how we think, feel and act towards age and ageing
  2. Developing communities in ways that foster the abilities of Elders
  3. Delivering person-centred integrated care and primary health service that are responsive to Elders
  4. Providing Elders access to long term care when they need it.

Activities to date include:

  • NCW Tauranga sub committee
  • Dr Sharon Kletchko appointed as Champion
  • Early communication with Age Concern, Grey Power, Alzheimers Association, Rural Women
  • A calendar for Tauranga activities
  • Initiated development of a website

Some key actions of note are that Rural Women and Age Concern have a project underway looking at Elder Care. Contact has been made with Minister Hon Ginny Andersen through the Office of Seniors. Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand, our Primary Health Organisation (PHO), Iwi and City Council are keen for collaboration and to provide support.

Pauline Bennett 
President, NCWNZ Tauaranga

International Women's Day 2023 Activities

International Women’s Day 2023 was a real success throughout the Branches of the National Council of Women of New Zealand. Thanks to the generous support of the Te Korowai Whetū Social Cohesion community fund, we gathered communities around meaningful events celebrating diversity on one hand, and empowering women through financial wellbeing on the other. 

NCWNZ Auckland Branch International Women’s Day Celebration - Women and Money
by Joy Walpole – NCW Tāmaki Auckland Branch President

On Monday 6th March to celebrate International Women’s Day, NCW Tāmaki held an event at Xero called ‘Women and Money’. Why an event on women and money? This is an issue which is near and dear to my heart – as someone who didn’t grow up with home ownership, or knowing anything about investing, financial wellbeing is something myself and the team at NCW are passionate about - making this knowledge accessible for all women.

The 2021 Financial Services Council Money & You report on women and financial wellbeing in NZ showed and our panellists highlighted this information:

  • Research domestically and globally highlights that women have lower financial confidence and wellbeing when compared to men.
  • We know women tend to have more interrupted working lives, in part-time or self-employed work, often due to taking on primary carer roles for children and wider whanau.
  • The age group 18-29 worry the most about money – with those money worries tending to decrease with age.
  • Over 80% of female respondents considered their financial wellbeing as moderate to very low, and over 65% considered the same about their overall wellbeing.
  • Women have lower incomes due to the gender and ethnic pay gap – and savings gap!

We had an excellent turnout, with approximately 70-80 people in attendance from across the community. We had an education session from one of the education team at Xero, the content included – how to change our money mindset. This was followed by our panel session who gave us excellent advice!

Top tips for financial wellbeing included:

  1. Talk to your family about financial wellbeing- teach your kids about money and budgeting. If you or a friend is experiencing economic harm, check out The Good Shepherd online.
  2. Be gentle with yourself! This may all be new information.
  3. Go to, a free service by Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission, with tools and resources to help you get ahead financially.
  4. Educate yourself! Advocate for system reform and for yourself.
  5. Start an emergency fund! Having a buffer gives you resilience.
  6. Think about retirement! It is cumulative (so doesn’t have to be huge amounts).
  7. Check out, a social network on Facebook supporting women.
  8. Teach your kids to invest! Sharesies, Hatch, etc.
  9. Read everything before signing! Even if it is your partner signing the documents.

The panel was followed by some Q&A time from the audience, which turned more into a reflective discussion of the content and different audience members’ experiences with finance.

Danielle Wood from Xero, with panelists Dr Ayesha Scott (AUT), Vanessa Morris (Retirement Commission), Rani Nalam.Pictured here is our host: Danielle Wood from Xero, with panellists Dr Ayesha Scott (AUT), Vanessa Morris (Retirement Commission), Rani Nalam.

Big thanks to the Ministry of Social Development's Social Cohesion community fund, as well as Xero for allowing us to have the event there and our dedicated NCWNZ Auckland Branch Executive team without whom this event would not happen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

NCWNZ Wellington Branch - IWD events
by Amy Rice - Wellington Branch member

To mark International Women’s Day 2023, the Wellington Branch of the National Council of Women Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa (NCWNZ) hosted “Fourth-Wave” – a celebration of the creativity, diversity and experiences of Wellington’s women and gender diverse people. Held at Te Wharewaka Function Centre, Fourth-Wave provided over 100 guests with a night full of fun and surprises!

Fourth-Wave was MC’ed by comedian Gabby Anderson who had guests roaring with laughter from the word go. Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau delivered the opening speech, setting the tone for the rest of the night with her reflections on inspirational women and Wellington’s arts scene. Guests were then treated to the beautiful Sounds of Matairangi - a chamber music group from Wellington East Girls’ College - and the powerful work of poet Devon Webb.

Get Woke Wellington host Aimee Tang moderated a panel with Demi Kirkpatrick, Daniella Gibson, Anna Guenther and Kaye-Maree Dunn
To celebrate this year’s theme for International Women’s Day and the Wellington Branch’s radio show and podcast, Get Woke Wellington, Fourth-Wave brought the two together for a live recorded panel discussion. NCWNZ member and Get Woke Wellington host Aimee Tang expertly moderated the discussion about innovation and technology for gender equality, which featured four inspirational speakers. Demi Kirkpatrick, Daniella Gibson, Anna Guenther and Kaye-Maree Dunn all shared their unique perspectives on how they got to where they are, the digital divide and how to get more young women involved in innovation and technology.

IWD2023 Wellington Event featuring Shivam Dance AcademyFrom here, the Shivam Dance Academy New Zealand lifted the tempo of the night with high-energy Kathak and Bollywood dances.

Nina Hogg followed this up with an astonishing whip performance that had guests on the edge of their seats as she lopped the head off the (metaphorical) patriarchy.

Nina Hogg's whip performance at IWD2023 in WellingtonMonique Lapins enchanted guests with her violin piece, transporting them to a woodland glen, before Lady Sane ended Fourth-Wave with a bang with her tantalising (and hilarious) burlesque performance.

Fourth-Wave really was a night of celebration and something for everyone! The Wellington Branch of NCWNZ would like to sincerely thank all performers and attendees, everyone who donated tickets to support the event, and Te Korowai Whetū Social Cohesion Community Fund for partially funding the event.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

IWD 2023 as Experienced by NCWNZ Intern, Emma Catteau

This year’s International Women's Day, with COVID restrictions lifted, we were able to gather and celebrate this special occasion by hearing from a diverse and inspiring group of role models from all walks of life. As an intern coming from France, it was my first experience of IWD in Aotearoa New Zealand, and I had the chance to undergo a very eventful day.

Parliament Breakfast

IWD2023 Parliamentary Breakfast - tables in hallThe day started with the very early breakfast at Parliament organised by Zonta International Club and hosted by Hon Jan Tinetti. The Minister opened the discussion and informed us on the actions that are being undertaken to promote women’s rights, gender equality and alleviate discrimination and violence. She invited us to reflect on Aotearoa New Zealand’s progress toward an egalitarian society and acknowledged the people who took part in this fight, including Georgina Beyer, first openly transgender mayor, who sadly passed away on March 6th.

Wellington’s Mayor, Tory Whanau, followed her respectful tribute to Georgina, and explained how proud she was to be a Māori leader, who particularly struggled with gender-based violence and addiction. She elaborated on what it is to be a young woman of colour in politics, from her entry to Parliament to her election as Mayor, and acknowledged the resilience of female politicians against discrimination and misogyny.

Being a business woman appeared to be as challenging as being a politician, which we could feel in the story of Jessie Wong, founder and owner of Yu Mei, a leather goods label made in New Zealand. As a very young entrepreneur, she had to face the challenges of a male-dominated economy, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, that endangered her newly launched enterprise.
NCWNZ members at IWD2023 Parliamentary BreakfastNCWNZ Members at Parliamentary Breakfast (l-r): Wutee Amohia, Zeena Khan, Kerri Du Pont, Suzanne Manning, Emma Catteau, Carol Beaumont, Aleisha Amohia

Finally, Paula Tesoriero closed the different speeches, and invited us to keep in mind the intersectionality of feminism, as being herself a disabled woman. She reaffirmed her dedication to achieve inclusiveness and acceptance in New Zealand, as well as her wish for young disabled girls and women to believe in themselves without having to hide, but rather embrace their disability. 

Countering violence against women and girls - Royal Thai Embassy

Suzanne Manning, our National President, was invited by the ASEAN Committee in Wellington and the ASEAN Ladies Circle Wellington to the Royal Thai Embassy as a guest speaker, to talk about the ways to change attitudes toward Gender Violence.
IWD2023 - Suzanne Manning at Royal Thai Embassy
Suzanne spoke about the Gender Attitude Survey and its results throughout the years, showing the improvements that have been made in terms of attitude toward gender equality, as well as the areas that underwent a decline.

Rob McCann from White Ribbon also informed us of their strategy to help younger boys to grow up with a healthy masculinity, and work with men of all backgrounds to work toward a New Zealand without domestic and sexual violence. Lastly, Philippa McAtee from Women’s Refuge, gave us a glimpse of what is done by the Refuge and what she is witnessing everyday, reminding us of the lack of means allocated to emergency measures to protect women. These different organisations declared being keen to walk side by side to make this happen and improve women’s lives. Then, Suzanne, Rob and Philippa participated in a panel discussion, answering questions from the guests.

Rob McCann (White Ribbon), Philippa McAtee (Womens Refuge), Suzanne Manning (NCWNZ) at Thai Embassy IWD2023

Panel at Royal Thai Embassy (l-r) Rob McCann from White Ribbon, Philippa McAtee from Women’s Refuge, Suzanne Manning from NCWNZ

We are very grateful to the Royal Thai Embassy for inviting us and giving us the opportunity to discuss such an important topic and hope that our message will reach the communities in the ASEAN region. 

Intimate partner rape and the trial process: Research, reflections and reform - book launch

Suzanne and I attended the launch of Elisabeth McDonald's book Prosecuting Intimate Partner Rape: The Impact of Misconceptions on Complainant Experience and Trial Process (Canterbury University Press, 2023). This was the occasion to discuss the double violence experienced by women that prosecute their aggressor: the aggression itself and the trial process that follows it. This is the final of three publications, which examines the experience of complainants in 15 intimate partner rape jury trials, as compared to complainant experience in 30 adult rape jury trials (in which the complainant and defendant were not in an intimate relationship).

The discussion that followed the presentation of the book invited us to reflect on the efficiency of the juridical system in New Zealand, implying high hope in regard to the Sexual Violence Legislation Act of 2021 and the measures it is implementing.

This was a very powerful moment, and a safe place for victims/survivors to exchange about their experiences, or simply being acknowledged and heard.

ICW's special issue

For a global view of the International Women's Day 2023, see the special issue of the International Council of Women / Conseil International des Femmes, ICW-CIF Celebrating International Women's Day 2023 (March 2023) New Zealand highlights can be found on pages 14-16.

Parliamentary Watch Committee watching for upcoming debate over the right to vote

How old is old enough to vote? It seems that the question will be debated by Parliament some time this year.

This responds to a declaration by the Supreme Court [the Court] in November 2022. The Court granted a declaration that the provisions of the Electoral Act 1993 and the Local Electoral Act 2001, both of which provide for a minimum voting age of 18 years, are inconsistent with the right set out in section 19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (BoRA) to be free from discrimination on the basis of age. It held that these inconsistencies had not been justified in terms of section 5 of BoRA. The action was taken through the courts by the Make It 16 group which has conducted a long campaign to lower the voting age. So, what does this mean and what happens next?

Only Parliament can change legislation, and in this case, it would require a 75 per cent majority for general election voting and a simple majority for local government. The Government must respond to the Declaration within six months, although it does not have to introduce a bill to lower the voting age or hold a referendum on it. Parliament has established a new process for considering declarations of inconsistency. This involves a select committee considering a declaration and reporting its findings to the House. The consideration of the Court’s Declaration of Inconsistency is the first time that this process has been followed.

The Government called for public submissions on the Declaration of Inconsistency Voting Age on 14 December 2022 with submissions due by the 15 March 2023 and a report on the 12 April 2023. A relatively brief timeframe at a difficult time of the year for consultation. We await publication of the report and its discussion by branches. Currently, NCWNZ has no policy on this issue. Policy on legal minimum age is limited to support for 18 years as the legal age for marriage (2014).

Parallel to potential changes above, there are two related reviews underway:

  • the Independent Electoral Review Panel which is considering a range of electoral changes; and,
  • the Future for Local Government Review which is also considering a raft of changes aimed at boosting participation in local government elections.

In the interim, we await the select committee’s report. However, current indications are that the voting age for general elections will not be lowered in the near future. Reaching the 75 per cent parliamentary majority needed is unlikely in the current Parliament. Both National and Act do not support lowering the voting age and the position of Te Pāti Māori | Māori Party is currently unclear. Importantly, contrary to earlier statements of support for change by the previous Prime Minister, the Government has recently announced that:

…. it will not be introducing legislation to lower the voting age to 16 for general elections. Instead, it will shift focus to lowering the age for voting in local body elections, which has stronger support in Parliament [13.3.23 Prime Minister Hipkins].

No decision has been made about whether there will be a party or a conscience vote. The situation for voting in local government elections is now a different matter given the Government’s statement above. It is less contentious than lowering the age for the general election vote and we may well see change there before too long.

We await developments on an important issue for our system of government.

Resources for further reading

Margaret Ledgerton, Parliamentary Watch Committee

NCWNZ Action Hubs

The CCHES Action Hub invited all the Action Hub members to attend an online presentation on March 30th by Janet Cole and Anna Marbrook about their work with the Te Henga / Bethells Beach community on the west coast of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Cole is the Manager of the Kaipātiki Project; and, Marbrook, a director/producer, connects media with social change to activate communities in both process and presentation. Together they work to bring people together through the enormously devastating impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle. They told their story with a video. Contact the convenor Christine Caughey at [email protected] for more information.

Paid parental leave is a government payment to help make up for lost income when you, an employee, has a new baby. It is also available to the self-employed. As usual criteria apply, but it is a legitimate right for all. Right?

Well, no, actually. Stuff reporter Uma Ahmed articulated this when she published an article "Directors hitting a bump when it comes to parental leave" on 8 February 2022 (reprinted in the Southland Times on February 9, 2022, and then followed up with "Why directors not being eligible for leave is an equity issue" (21 March 2022). Persons in elected positions, e.g., territorial authorities or directors of companies, are not eligible as they are not considered to be employees: they are contractors.

Who knew? Well some elected young women didn’t think to ask the question until after they declared their pregnancies. What did they find? There are no universal protocols to cover this situation.

Institute of Directors - video for report summaryWhen the matter was raised within the Institute of Directors, it was found that current legislation does not permit directors to take any sort of extended leave of absence but that individual companies may develop appropriate policies to allow such leave. A subsequent research paper “Should I stay or should I go? Directors, leave of absence and liability" states where the current law sits and raises questions about directors’ liabilities under the Companies Act 1993.

Similarly with territorial authorities, no universal policies but there are some accepted protocols within some councils, but one has to seek permission and certainly paid leave is not available. Interest was piqued within the NCWNZ Economic Independence Action Hub. Was this an equity issue, creating barriers to achieving diversity amongst such roles, diversity of gender, age, experience, skills?

Three different groups were contacted: Women on Boards, Institute of Directors and Local Government New Zealand with the following results:

Women on Boards – this organisation is having internal discussions on this topic.

Institute of Directors – is taking this issue seriously and thinks there will need to be a law change – involving the Companies Act, Financial markets Conduct Act, Health & Safety at Work Act, D&O Insurance and Remuneration for self-employed contractors which is acknowledged as the status of directors.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) had already been considering this topic when our group contacted them. They welcomed our input into their discussions. At the end of January 2023, they sent a paper to all local government councils making suggestions about how parental leave and child care clauses could be handled including templates for appropriate policies to be adopted.

Their paper begins with the following statement:

Reflecting our commitment to diversity and inclusivity LGNZ has developed the following policies on child-care allowances and parental leave for the consideration of councils and possible adoption. Both are in the form of templates.

  • The draft “childcare allowance clauses” have been drafted to allow for their inclusion into a Council’s “Elected Member Expenses, Allowances and Reimbursements Policy” (Expenses Policy). Councils can, if they wish, also adopt them as a separate policy.
  • The draft “parental leave” clauses are better adopted as a standalone policy, given that they concern the matter of leave, rather than the payment of a specified allowance.

Our Hub group is generally satisfied with what has been suggested by LGNZ although in their paper, parental leave is just that, not paid leave.

A letter to councils from NCWNZ is being sent to find out whether they intend implementing the policies suggested by LGNZ. We will advise relevant branches when their council will receive this letter so any local follow–up can be planned.

In March the NCWNZ Safety, Health and Wellbeing Action Hub led the development of a NCWNZ submission to Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health on New Zealand's first ever Women's Health Strategy. The Women's Health Strategy is a part of the Pae Ora (Health Futures) Act 2022 – the legislation for the country's new public health system.

NCWNZ branches and individual members made considered and informative responses to the Action Item and there was clear agreement on key points and priorities which were reflected in the submission.

Our submission emphasised the need for "early evidence of its [the Strategy's] impact, seen in real change for all women." We connected this inaugural Women's Health Strategy in New Zealand to international obligations, especially, New Zealand's commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Again Women (CEDAW).

We were pleased that the Strategy aligned with NCWNZ’s policy and approach, would take a gender-based approach, apply the different lenses of discrimination across all the strategies, and would be inclusive of gender diverse people, including trans women, bisexual, intersex, and non-binary people.

A point members stressed was that the major determinants of women's health lie outside of the health system. Low incomes, substandard, insecure housing, unaffordable healthy food, and the stress associated with poverty; and that there would not be significant improvements in the health of girls and women until we as a nation seriously tackle poverty, pay equity, housing, education, misogyny, and all forms of discrimination.

We wanted to see greater emphasis on the disproportionate health impacts on women from climate change disasters, the COVID pandemic and ongoing discrimination in our human rights and social support legislation. We also highlighted that existing inequalities are amplified by such crises, and we argued for a strategy that took immediate action to address the current health outcome disparities for wāhine Māori and women living in emergency, transitional or refuge housing with children. In addition, human rights and anti-discrimination legislation needed strengthening. We recommended in our submission both short- and medium-term priority actions that should be included in the Strategy.

The submission identified key issues for women within the health system that need to be addressed more thoroughly:

  • Women with most and multiple disadvantage, e.g., wāhine Māori, Pasifika women, women who are disabled, trans women, bisexual, non-binary and intersex people.
  • Cultural and religious differences.
  • Bias in research and diagnosis.
  • Lack of trust in many medical professionals due to their lack of knowledge and attitudes, e.g., "medical gaslighting"

The priority issues for women in the health system were identified:

  • Women's reproductive role throughout the life course.
  • Development of a maternal and perinatal health strategy and action plan from preconception through pregnancy and infant/child development.
  • Workforce issues including recruitment and retention of midwives, attracting general practitioners (GPs) to obstetrics, and pay equity for all categories of nurses.

We provided a basis for an Action Plan for the Women's Health Strategy. It focused on women's specific life stages, and for each stage offered issues/needs together with suggested actions within 2-5 years.

The Strategy is due to be with the Minister of Health in July. When released we will be looking to see evidence our concerns have been addressed and of immediate- and medium-term concrete and resourced actions that make the Strategy a reality for women.

In election year, NCWNZ will be asking candidates about their commitment to the Strategy and it is important that individual members in their localities do as well.

For all the details, please download the submission (.pdf file) here.

Planning is underway to hold a follow-up webinar on countering misogyny in June 2023. See the first event "Countering Misogyny" (10 July 2022) on NCWNZ's YouTube channel - a panel moderated by Sue Kedgeley included Sara Templeton, a Christchurch City Councillor; Mihingarangi Forbes, journalist and host of TV3’s Māori current affairs show The Hui; Ali Mau, a senior journalist at Stuff and editor of the #metooNZ project; and, Kate Hannah, Director of The Disinformation Project Aotearoa.


N.B. Any member can join one or more Action Hubs - sign in to your account on the NCWNZ website and fill out the sign-up form here.

National discussions on family violence and sexual violence planned for May-June 2023

Te Puna Aonui logoAccording to a recent newsletter from Te Puna Aonui, their work on sexual violence workforce capability frameworks for government and non-government agencies requires input from our local communities, specific groups representing victim-survivors, and families. Their Interdepartmental Executive Board has conducted a literature review that identified themes that will inform a series of hui they are planning to conduct in May and June 2023. These discussions will purposely include "tangata whenua and with input from Pacific peoples, disabled people, LGBTQIA+, older people, ethnic, migrant, and refugee communities, and children and young people. ... To ensure people with the appropriate voices, skills and expertise attend the hui series, engagement with sector stakeholders have been initiated through ongoing discussions with Te Ohaakii a Hine – National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together ( and Te Puna Aonui is reaching out to the communities engaging in the implementation of Te Aorerekura [National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence]."

To assure that the discussions are kept in the proper context for encouraging openness and diverse voices, Te Puna Aonui is calling this a wānanga. Accordingly, this series of gatherings will ideally be about "engaging in the process of sharing and reflecting upon current understandings that leads to decision-making for future success and the creation of new knowledge."

Five on-site wānanga will be held:

  • Whangārei 8 May,
  • Auckland 22 May,
  • Christchurch 6 June,
  • Dunedin 8 June, and
  • Palmerston North 19 June.

A sixth hui will run virtually online. For more information, send an email to: [email protected]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Te Puna Aonui is a collective of ten government agencies, an Interdepartmental Executive Board (, and a business unit. The Tangata Whenua Ministerial Advisory Group ( was appointed in June 2022 to provide independent advice on the implementation of Te Aorerekura – the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Originally coined as The Joint Venture in 2018, the organisation led the effort to improve a whole-of-government approach to family violence and sexual violence. In 2022, the Joint Venture became Te Puna Aonui, an Interdepartmental Executive Board under the Public Service Act 2020.

Te Puna Aonui includes:

  • Te Kaporeihana Āwhina Hunga Whara - Accident Compensation Corporation
  • Ara Poutama Aotearoa - Department of Corrections
  • Te Tāhuhu o Te Mātauranga - Ministry of Education
  • Manatū Hauora - Ministry of Health
  • Tāhū o te Ture - Ministry of Justice
  • Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora - Ministry of Social Development
  • Ngā Pirihimana O Aotearoa - New Zealand Police
  • Te Kawa Mataaho - Public Service Commission
  • Oranga Tamariki - Ministry for Children
  • Te Puni Kōkiri - Ministry of Māori Development

There are 4 associate agencies of the Joint Venture:

  • Te Tari O Te Pirimia Me Te Komiti Matau - Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Manatū Wāhine - Ministry for Women
  • Te Manatū mō Ngā Iwi o Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa - Ministry of Pacific Peoples
  • Te Tari Mātāwaka - Ministry for Ethnic Communities

NCWNZ reps at Irish Summer School

Ambassador Jane Connolly

Three of our members -- Emma Catteau (NCWNZ Board administrator), Amy Rice and Parminder Kaur from Wellington Branch -- participated in the annual Summer School organised by the Embassy of Ireland taking place in Wellington on the 10th and 11th of February 2023.

To celebrate both Brigid’s Day, Ireland’s celebration of the creativity and influence of women and girls, and the 130th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote in Aotearoa New Zealand, the Summer School was focused “Agents of Change: A Reflection on the Legacy, Influence, and Role of Women and Girls”.

After a few words were given by Jane Connolly, the Ambassador of Ireland, and Nina Obermaier, Ambassador of the European Delegation to Aotearoa New Zealand, the guests followed a conversation with Louisa Wall, Ambassador for Gender Equality in Pacific. The former athlete, retired Labour Party MP and Human Rights defender depicted what it is like to be a woman in a male-dominated Parliament. She elaborated on how vulnerable our representative democracy is and explained the importance of being a good “ally”. To make change happen, hearing from the community you are trying to mobilise is necessary, which is also extremely important when working around intersectionality. Being an ally includes showing up for the communities you are supporting, let them lead the debates, listen to their needs and get educated on their issues.

When asked “What is an agent of change?”, guest speakers notably mentioned the idea of being a disruptor, being able to see beyond what’s usual, and being able to bring people along with you. Throughout the different discussions, speeches and workshops, the guests got to learn about how societal transformations can be made, no matter at which scale, no matter the area of focus or the obstacles that will be faced.

We are grateful to the Irish Embassy for giving NCWNZ the opportunity to exchange ideas with inspiring women who are making changes in Aotearoa New Zealand.

NCWNZ's Emma Catteau commented:

“I am very thankful to have been given the opportunity to meet the amazing women who were present at the Irish Embassy. As a newcomer in New Zealand, I was impressed to learn about the efforts and initiatives made to create change and the number of women that are raising their voice and fighting for what they believe in. Their effort will enable future generations to have access to the same human rights as their peers, and live in a world free of violence, threat and discrimination. Lastly, I stand by Dr Forough Amin’s declaration that women should be supporting women against patriarchy around the world and that we should all work together towards an egalitarian society.”

Scene from Irish Summer School, Wellington NZ, Feb 2023
Break time at the Irish Embassy overlooking Wellington Harbour

Readings to consider

NCWNZ Board member Betty Ofe-Grant has written a thoughtful article on how talanoa and gender expression in the Pacific can set an example for New Zealand. The article follows up on a controversial visit by Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, a British anti-transgender rights activist and founder of the group Standing for Women. Read the article, "Pacific approach can guide gender-rights debate," PMN News (14 April 2023), online at

gold frond separator

Henry, N., Gavey, N., McGlynn, C., & Rackley, E. (2022). "‘Devastating, like It Broke Me’: Responding to Image-Based Sexual Abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand," Criminology & Criminal Justice.
     An international team of researchers, including Nicola Gavey at University of Auckland, interviewed 25 victim-survivors of the non-consensual taking or sharing of intimate images, also known as ‘image-based sexual abuse.’ Few had formally reported to police or pursued other justice options. While participants held different justice ideals, all sought recognition of the harms perpetrated against them. Yet they faced multiple obstacles when navigating justice, redress and support options. The report discusses the many limitations of New Zealand's Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015.


Commision on the Status of Women, Sixty-seventh session (CSW67) Agreed conclusions, 18 March 2023. "Innovation and technological change and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls."


Prichard, Jane. Creating Space – An Experience of Gender. Auckland, NZ: Mary Egan Publishing, 2023.
   In this newly published memoir, Jane Prichard CNZM QSO describes how she established the Bridgebuilders Network for Presbyterian and associated church women nationally and regionally, Pacific Women’s Watch (New Zealand) as a liaison to Asia-Pacific Women’s Watch, and the Asia-Pacific Regional Council for the International Council of Women (ICW). Read more about the book and purchase it online at

Milestones: Voting rights by age in New Zealand

How young, legally, is an adult in New Zealand? In general, the law states that a person does not attain "full age" until reaching the age of 20 years. However, this question has a different answer in the law depending on the context. Here are some examples of different legal ages for adult responsibilities:

  • paid work: International child labour standards, fought for by women's groups all around the world, set the minimum age for light work at 13 years, general employment at 15 and hazardous work at 18. In New Zealand there is no general minimum age for employment, but at 16 a worker can qualify as an adult worker (or "starting-out worker). And, there are rules around the times young people can work and the types of work they can do. For example, people under the age of 16 legally cannot be allowed by employers to work in hazardous conditions (e.g., manufacturing or timber industry), work before 6 a.m. or after 10 p.m - and their jobs must not prevent or interfere with school attendance. Minimum wage compliance kicks in at the age of 16 (with some weeks of training probation first).
  • sex and marriage: Before 1896 the age of consent was 12. This meant that children at the age of 12 legally became adults, capable of making decisions such as having consensual sex or getting married. In reality, of course this allowed men seeking unpaid labour for housekeeping and sex work could take advantage of young girls. Incest was not a crime until 1900. Through the continued petitioning of groups such as the WCTU NZ the age of consent was raised to 14 for girls in 1889 and finally to 16 in 1896 regardless of gender - an age at which New Zealand society felt that a child could make life-long decisions for themselves. Since the passage of the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, a teen 12 years or older can be prosecuted for a consensual relationship with a teen under 16 (both parties if both are 12 years or older) even though "age of consent" is 16. If the charge is sexual violation, age does not enter into the decision. New Zealand statutory rape law is violated when an individual has consensual sexual contact with a person under age 16. The age of consent is raised to age 18 if the offender is in a guardianship role. A defense exists if the sex offender reasonably took precautions and believed the victim to be 16 or over.
  • crime: you can be held criminally responsible at 10 years of age if you kill someone, and at 12 be responsible before the law for other serious crimes. At 14 you are no longer a "child" and can be held responsible for breaking any law.
  • other rights that are attained at the age of 16:
    - apply for a learners drivers license
    - decide which parent you want to live
    - agree to, or refuse, medical treatment
    - choose to leave school
    - keep/change one's own name
    - make a will
    - apply for a firearms licence
    - get an adult passport

Here are some milestones in New Zealand's history of voting rights focusing the criteria of age:

1852 Constitution Act: only males over the age of 21 who owned, leased or rented property of a certain value could vote. (See more on this at

1867 Māori Representation Act established four Māori seats in the House of Representatives and in so doing extended the franchise to all Māori males aged 21 and over. (See more on this at

1876 All women ratepayers at the age of 21 can vote locally.

1879 Universal suffrage for all males at the age of 21.

1893 Electoral Act extended universal suffrage for women at the age of 21 (See more on this at

1969 Voting age in New Zealand was reduced to 20.

1974 Voting age reduced to 18.


Stories to celebrate

New e-book tells story of adoption, state care, donor conception and surrogacy in New Zealand

Anne Else 2023by Dr Anne Else, MNZM

Thousands of New Zealanders have had their lives profoundly affected by adoption. I am one of them: I was adopted at birth in 1945.

The book I needed to read about adoption did not exist. So, in 1991 I published A Question of Adoption: Closed Stranger Adoption in New Zealand 1944–1974. This has now been completely updated, expanded, and republished online as a new e-book by Bridget Williams Books.

I was very fortunate to work with distinguished Māori academic Dr Maria Haenga-Collins on this project.

As well as adoption, we have covered state care, donor conception and surrogacy, from 1975 right up to the present. The first part shows how the post-war adoption system took shape, based on narrow, judgmental concepts of “unmarried mothers”, “unwanted children” and “normal families”; how it worked (or failed to work); and its lifelong effects on everyone involved. It sets out how and why profound change eventually took place, thanks to adopted people and their adoptive and birth parents speaking out about their experience.

In the new chapters we go on to cover the shocking story of how children – especially tamariki Māori – have been treated in state care, including being cut off from their whānau and whakapapa (as they were by adoption too). There’s a detailed account of the long struggles to reveal the past and stop it being repeated.

We then chart the complex history of new ways of creating children using “third parties” – donors of sperm, eggs and embryos as well as surrogate mothers – through assisted reproductive technology (ART). This has led to lengthy debates over regulation, particularly in terms of how to protect the rights and welfare of everyone involved, and how to make sure the resulting children can know their origins and human connections. New Zealand’s recent record on these issues has been generally good in global terms. But outdated legislation has still not been revised to deal with them fully, and major recent reform projects on adoption and surrogacy law have not yet resulted in change.

The final chapter looks at the many local and global risks now facing human reproduction. Taking effective action to tackle these equitably is just as urgent as taking action on climate change.

A Question of Adoption: Closed Stranger Adoption in New Zealand 1944–1974 and Adoption, State Care, Donor Conception and Surrogacy 1975–2022.
Anne Else with Maria Haenga-Collins
Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, 2023
Online e-book, 534 pages.
Available also from Amazon (Kindle edition), Google Play, and Kobo.


Women for the first time in all legislatures in the world

by Beryl Anderson ONZM

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has reported that, for the first time ever, there are women in national legislatures in every single country on Earth. You can download the report "Women in parliament in 2022: The year in review" from here:

Report cover, IPU \Women reached new milestones in parliamentary representation around the globe, and the context for women’s political leadership continued to expand. Gender issues and women’s rights shaped voter behaviour and electoral outcomes in countries from Brazil to Hungary and from Australia to the United States of America.

Women’s representation in national parliaments is at 26.5%. In the 47 countries that held elections in 2022, women took an average of 25.8% of seats. Where legislated quotas existed, 30.9% were filled by women, compared to 21.2% where no quotas existed.

According to the report, the Senate of Australia was the only chamber to elect women to over 50% of seats in 2022 (56.6%), making Australia the highest-ranking upper house in the world in terms of women’s representation and one of only five upper chambers in the world to exceed 50%.  Six other countries elected women to between 40% and 50% of seats.

For the first time ever, there is at least one woman member of parliament in each of the legislatures of all Pacific Island countries.

On 25 October 2022, when Soraya Peke-Mason was sworn in to replace former Speaker Trevor Mallard, New Zealand had women making up the majority of its parliament for the first time. The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians New Zealand Group celebrated this milestone on 9 November 2022 with Peke-Mason being presented with a camellia broach. Overall, as of 1 January 2023, six countries had parity or a greater share of women than men in their lower or single house: Cuba, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates.

Dates to note for May 2023

May 8-9: UN's Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War

May 8: Te Puna Aonui's wānanga on sexual violence in Whangārei

May 14: Mother's Day in New Zealand

May 15: International Day of Families

May 16: International Day of Living Together in Peace

May 20: World Bee Day

May 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

May 22: Te Puna Aonui's wānanga on sexual violence in Auckland; and, International Day for Biological Diversity

May 23: International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

May 26: Deadline to share feedback on Te Aorerekura — the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence -

May 31: World No Tobacco Day

June 5: King's birthday (national public holiday)

June 6: Te Puna Aonui's wānanga on sexual violence in Christchurch

June 8: Te Puna Aonui's wānanga on sexual violence in Dunedin

June 19: Te Puna Aonui's wānanga on sexual violence in Palmerston North

Quotation to ponder

"Your ancestors from long ago knew how to do this. They knew the power of the feminine principle... and because you carry their DNA in your body, this wisdom and this way of being is within you. Call on it. Call it up. Invite your ancestors in. As the yang-based habits and the decaying institutions on our planet begin to crumble, look up. A breeze is stirring. Feel the sun on your wings."

- International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers
Grandmothers Wisdom Project

Whakataukī to share

Piki kau ake te whakāro pai, hauhake tōnu iho
When a good thought springs up, it is harvested, a good idea should be used immediately.

This whakataukī expresses one of several Māori women's perspectives of leadership and wellbeing described by Stacey Ruru, Maree Roche and Waikaremoana Waitoki. Read their article in Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing: Te Mauri – Pimatisiwin, Vol 2:1 (2017):

To understand how (and why) to use whakataukī as a resource to support leadership practice through conversations and critical reflection, read Kathryn O’Connell-Sutherland, "Growing shared leadership and bicultural understandings through whakataukī," School News New Zealand (21 July 2020):




The Circular is the official organ of The National Council of Women of New Zealand. Archived copies are available at the National Library of New Zealand (ISSN 2815-8644).

Get involved locally - connect Be generous - donate Keep up to date - news