It’s fair to say the first half of 2020 has been one of exceptional circumstances, a time we’re unlikely to ever forget! But in between the lockdown experience in New Zealand’s fight against COVID-19, some highlights have stood out for Te Ira Waahine o Waikato, Waikato Women’s Fund.
Our first Annual Members’ Meeting (AMM) was held on Wednesday 20 May in the midst of Level 3 – the wonders of Zoom! This coincided with a significant milestone for the WWF – our endowment fund now sits at $100,000. This is wonderful recognition of the generosity of our members.
We welcomed six new committee members at the AMM, all of whom are committed to continuing the work of the dedicated establishment committee, many of whom have stepped down after two years of working passionately to see the Fund come to fruition.
In recent weeks, the WWF been thrilled to see two significant announcements from the Government, which will have a positive impact on waahine in the Waikato:
· On 31 May, the Minister for Women, Hon Julie Anne Genter, announced a $1 million fund for organisations that support women and girls in Aotearoa New Zealand as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response.
· On 03 June, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter, announced young people in Waikato will be the first to have free access to period products in schools. During Term 3, the Ministry of Education will begin providing free period products to 15 Waikato schools, with the initiative to be expanded to all state and state-integrated schools on an opt-in basis in 2021.
Prior to New Zealand going into lockdown, the WWF was able to hold its signature event of 2020, Waahine Toa: Wisdom Shared. This iconic empowerment event, held on Saturday 14 March, was organised to raise funds and further increase the profile of the WWF. And, with incredibly inspirational speakers, including:
· Angela Swann-Cronin; the first Maaori woman to join the New Zealand Airforce;
· Dr Karlo Mila, an International acclaimed NZ Pacific poet and writer;
· Madiha Changezi, a young millennial, a former refugee from Pakistan and now a published author;
· Karen Morrison-Hume, Missioner and CEO at Anglican Action Waikato; and
· Parekawhia Mclean, Chairperson, Te Whakatkitenga o Waikato,
sharing their stories to an audience of more than 230 attendees over a beautiful ‘High Tea’ in The Atrium at Wintec, Hamilton, the event was a very special occasion for all involved.
Our thanks extend to Zealong Teas, Matawhero Wines, and Veuve du Vernay bubbles for this special occasion, as well as to MC, Jan-Maree Franicevic, Kaumatua, Atutahi Riki and Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate.
As we look ahead to the second half of 2020, the WWF is excited to connect with the Christchurch Women’s Fund, which is in the early days of being set up. We’re also looking forward to growing our membership and seeking opportunities for further empowering women and girls in the Waikato.