Hollow victory for Hannah Tamaki

The New Zealand Herald/July 21, 2011

Destiny Church co-founder Hannah Tamaki can continue her bid for the national presidency of the Maori Women's Welfare League but has lost the potential votes of 10 new branches.

Amid fears of a Destiny "takeover'' at the upcoming annual conference in August, the league left Mrs Tamaki's nomination off the presidential ballot - sent out at the end of June - and suspended 13 church-linked branches.

Mrs Tamaki, whose husband Brian is bishop of the Destiny Church, went to the High Court seeking reinstatement.

Justice Stephen Kos today released his decision, ruling Mrs Tamaki's candidacy was valid, as were three established Destiny-related branches formed in 2005 and 2009.

However he ruled 10 other recently formed branches, made up of Destiny Church supporters, were invalid.

Mrs Tamaki, a Maori Women's Welfare League member for two years, is president of the Wahine Toa branch which this year nominated her for national office.

Justice Kos said the 10 new branches had their inaugural meetings at the same time on the same day in June, all at the Auckland headquarters of the Destiny Church.

In each case, five new members established each branch - the minimum number required under the league's constitution. The nominors, one of whom was Mrs Tamaki, were the same for all 10 branches.

The number of members claimed to have joined the new branches ranged from 91 to 93, the judge noted.

Under the constitution, each branch may have a maximum of 10 votes at the national conference, including for the election of president. At least 91 members were required to secure that number of votes.

It was not unreasonable for league members to connect Mrs Tamaki's presidential nomination and the formation of the 10 new branches, he said.

Had they been validly constituted, they would represent up to 100 new votes which might be secured for Mrs Tamaki.

"In an election which otherwise would be decided by a voting pool totalling 347 votes, a further 100 votes would clearly be significant - all the more so in an election with eight candidates,'' Justice Kos said.

For the past 10 years, the organisation's membership had been between about 2500 and 3000.

"The sudden addition of over 900 new members in one fell swoop was a singular event for the league,'' he said.

In essence, the new branches had been established because just three members, one of them Mrs Tamaki, had decided they should exist.

No sanction was sought by the regional council and none was given, he said.

"I find the manner in which the new branches have been established completely contrary to the practices and tikanga of the league."

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