Interpreting the Rules of a Society

2011 Article, updated February 2018 Another article “Protecting the Destiny of a Society” discussed the judgment in Tamaki v The Māori Women’s Welfare League Incorporated, CIV-2011-485-001319, High Court, Wellington, 21 July 2011, Kos J.  That judgment noted that: [6] The League is an incorporated society under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 … governed by a constitution. The constitution is a broadly cast document. … it is stronger on conceptual values than on prescriptive, procedural detail. The constitution therefore needs to be construed in accordance with the core underlying values of the League. Respect, manaaki (embrace) and tautoko (support) are at the heart of the tikanga of the League. [7] As Mrs Jacqui Te Kani, a former President of the League and now its General Manager, said in her affidavit: The [League’s] constitution has always been light on detail of how the League operates because the members have always operated on traditional values and concepts and there has been no need to put into law what has always been our lore. [8] I accept that observation. An instrument such as the League’s constitution will be imbued with values and customary practices that will not be written within the four corners of the document itself. Those values and practices are part of the tikanga of the League and are to be respected as much as the constitution is. The constitution does not stand alone in governing the conduct of members and member entities of the League. If the constitution speaks to a topic, that is to be accorded great respect. But if there is a gap in the written words of the...