In September 1951, some 90 women delegates, representing the founding branches of what is now known as the Maori Women’s Welfare League, assembled at Wellington’s Ngati Poneke Hall at the Inaugural Conference. A constitution was formally adopted and Princess Te Puea Herangi accepted an invitation to become patroness of the newly constituted League. Whina (later Dame Whina), Cooper was elected President of the League. A new executive took up office.
The Maori Women’s Welfare League – Te Ropu Wahine Maori Toko i te Ora – was the first national Maori organisation to be formed, it was also the first to provide Maori women with a forum in which their concerns could be aired, brought to a wider national audience and placed before the policy-makers of the day.
Te Ropu Wahine Maori Toko i te Ora (Maori Women’s Welfare League Inc), is an organisation that adheres to Maori traditional values and concepts which are reflected in management principles and practices to aspire to a vision while achieving set goals and objectives. Te Ropu Wahine Maori Toko i te Ora today continues to be a formidable voice for Maori people throughout New Zealand with branches well established in Australia, and formerly, London and Hawaii.
There are more than 3000 members of Te Ropu Wahine Maori Toko i te Ora today who operate on the same kaupapa (basis) as those who started in 1951. Namely, to improve the wealth of Maori, be that spiritually, social wellbeing or economically. Te Ropu Wahine Maori Toko i te Ora has initiated many programmes and plans to assist Maori to reclaim their tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty) as a people taking control of their own destiny.