President’s Kōrero, October 2022

The month of September was celebration month! Suffrage Day was celebrated around the two motu with many events. I myself was thrilled to be invited to the unveiling of the suffrage stained-glass window at the Whanganui District Council Chambers, commissioned by the Whanganui branch – kei te pai ō mahi. (See article on this commemorative window here.) It was a time when NCWNZ was out and about, visible and proud. Especially so at Parliament, when we were able to hold the postponed celebration for the 125th anniversary of NCWNZ’s founding. It was great to see so many members and guests there, with so many of those who have contributed over many years. Thank you to all who were involved in the organisation of the event, it was very special because of your efforts.

In October, we held our online AGM which was well attended by individual and organisation members. In addition to discussing the annual report and financial statements (the review of which is yet to be completed), we were able to start a discussion about our tools for advocacy:

  • Submissions on legislations?
  • Resolutions at conference?
  • Position papers?
  • Action Items?

What are they used for, useful for, and could be used for? With our new Action Hubs, we have a chance to rethink our advocacy tools for the modern social, technological and political environment. We can be strategic about how and when we use different tools. This was the start of the discussion, which will be continued next year.

We also had a chance to thank Beryl Anderson, who will be stepping down from Parliamentary Watch Convenor after 8 + 3 years. She is a goldmine of information, both about historic events and the current political vibe; and she has been a steady guiding hand for PWC for a long time now. It has been easy to be complacent when Beryl was available to lead the group. Now it is time for others to step up, and be trained in managing this essential coordinating committee. Full training given, don’t be shy!

We also trialled our new voting structure for the first time under a new constitution, and it has shown up a few issues we will have to sort out. We will need people to be clear as to whether they are an individual member or a non-voting organisational representative, and we will need to get more individual members to vote or else change our rules for quorum. We had 42 individual votes (we needed 80 for quorum) and 15 organisation votes (we needed 13). Although the overwhelming vote agreed to accept the draft annual reports and financial statements, it was not a constitutionally valid vote. The Board will be looking at this in more detail, but it is a matter of concern for each and every member – how do we ensure effective decision making for NCWNZ?

As Aotearoa opens up again after/despite the pandemic, the number of invitations that the Board is getting to events and meetings is increasing.  We have attended a launch of the National Library’s Suffrage Petition workbook, a celebration of 50 years of the Equal Pay Act, an ‘informal korero and progress update’ on the Training Incentive Allowance hosted by Minister Sepuloni, and a civil society forum with the European Parliament Free Trade Agreement Committee. We are being approached to speak to different groups, such as the Japanese Women’s Innovation Network, the PPTA women’s committee, the Public Service Commission/Te Kawa Mataaho women’s network, the Inland Revenue women’s network, and just recently, a company organising an overseas trip for students of Minnesota University in the US. These invitations speak of our continued relevance to women’s groups and civil society in general, and the work of the Action Hubs and Branches contribute to this recognition. Ka mau te wehi 😊.

Finally, it is with disappointment that the Board has decided to withdraw from hosting the ICW-CIF Executive Committee meeting in September 2023. We felt that there would not be enough time to prepare properly for this meeting, especially in a way that would bring the costs down enough to be affordable for a wide range of participants, and do this in an election year when we know that we want to be keeping an eye on the issues to bring to the attention of politicians. The Board is discussing other options and we will let you know when anything has been decided.

Keep safe and well in the lead up to the end of year, holiday season and summer weather.

Ngā mihi maioha,
Suzanne Manning

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