Anger at Aussies’ Ma¯ori conference
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.