Anger at Aussies’ Ma¯ori con­fer­ence

Sunday News - - NEWS - JOEL INESON

A con­fer­ence run by an Aus­tralian com­pany for Ma¯ori women lead­ers has come un­der fire for charg­ing at­ten­dance fees of thou­sands of dol­lars while re­fus­ing to pay speak­ers.

Liquid Learn­ing will host its fourth Ma¯ori Women in Lead­er­ship Hui from De­cem­ber 5, where at­ten­dees are charged up to $4000 for two days of talks and events.

But many Ma¯ori lead­ers have called out the or­gan­is­ers for charg­ing ‘‘hor­ren­dous’’ prices while re­fus­ing to of­fer a koha to speak­ers or con­trib­ute to their ex­penses.

‘‘It’s tak­ing ad­van­tage of a lot of these women who put their time up be­cause they want to help,’’ said Cal­laghan In­no­va­tion Ma¯ori busi­ness and re­la­tion­ship man­ager Francene Wineti.

Wineti said she was con­tacted twice by Liquid Learn­ing staff this year – once to speak and later to at­tend – de­spite ask­ing them to take her off her mail­ing list last year.

She reached out to her own net­work of Ma¯ori lead­ers and busi­ness peo­ple, and re­ceived more than 40 responses from peo­ple who fielded the same calls to at­tend, fa­cil­i­tate or speak at the con­fer­ence.

Wineti said some com­plained they had per­son­ally paid a koha to speak­ers, ‘‘be­cause Liquid Learn­ing don’t do that’’.

‘‘There are some cul­tural as­pects that [Liquid Learn­ing] have no idea about, and then that puts a bit of onus on the speak­ers who just want to help Ma¯ori women and get their mes­sage out.’’

Some speak­ers are con­cerned their names and good­will are be­ing ex­ploited.

Kim Hill, who runs con­sult­ing com­pany Stratigi, re­acted to Wineti’s on­line post to con­firm speak­ers were not be­ing paid for their time. She said she in­quired with Liquid Learn­ing to ask whether they would cover ex­penses ‘‘and it was a no’’.

Hill said she re­mained op­ti­mistic about what could be gained for Ma¯ori women from at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence.

Other women called for a boy­cott and for Ma¯ori women to run their own con­fer­ences.

It is un­der­stood the com­pany tar­gets peo­ple work­ing for or­gan­i­sa­tions that can cover the cost for their at­tendee.

‘‘But if you want to en­gage with Ma¯ori busi­ness women and lead­ers, there’s a cer­tain way that you go about it,’’ Wineti said.

Liquid Learn­ing’s Aus­tralian di­rec­tors de­clined to com­ment.

Francene Wineti.

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