Two new board appointments

National President Susan Dickson (on the right) presents the badges of office to Colleen McMurchy (left) and Dawn Mullins.

The Catholic Women’s League board is very happy to announce two national appointment

National Social Issues Convener

Dawn Mullins is from Auckland  and  worked in Social Services during my working life and as a volunteer advocate when asked by people for help.

On learning of her appointment she says she is humbled to be appointed to this position and look forward to sharing a perspective on the pertinent issues as they may arise.

Interestingly, Dawn’s mother was a member of CWL for many years which gave me an appreciation of the CWL function and activities.

International Secretary

Colleen McMurchy, also from Auckland Diocese has been a CWL member almost continuously since leaving Papatoetoe Homemakers in 1976.

Currently an Associate member she held various positions in the Maori CWL in Auckland from late 1980s until it disbanded in 2001. She has served several terms on the Auckland Diocesan Council returning late 2017 as Diocesan Secretary.

Colleen was privileged to be a member of the NZ delegation to WUCWO in Mexico in 1991 and the Asia Pacific WUCWO Assembly in Canberra 1996.

She was on the organising committee of the Asia Pacific WUCWO conference in Hamilton in 1993 and edited the Conference proceedings.

Colleen comes from a background of Teacher Education and Maori Education. After retiring from University of Auckland she trained tutors in Adult Literacy & Numeracy.

She has been a JP for 34 years.

Slavery-free Easter chocolate – Be a good egg this Easter

Children as young as 12 years old are picking cocoa in West Africa to make the chocolate we eat. Some of these children are trafficked.  Most are forced to pick cocoa from an early age for minimal or no wages, for long hours, in dangerous working conditions, without any possibility of attending school.  Most of these children have never tasted chocolate and they never will.

Chocolate eaters around the world have made a difference already. A decade ago, slavery-free chocolate was hard to find in our shops.

Some successes are:

  • Cadbury dairy milk chocolate bars made in Australia have been certified Fairtrade.
  • All Mars bars made in Australia are now certified Rainforest Alliance.
  • All Nestle chocolate made in Australia and New Zealand is now UTZ certified.
  • Waikato Valley (suppliers of Easter Eggs and Bunnies to the Warehouse) say their chocolate is ethically sourced and human trafficking free. Their coca supplier, “Cargill has made a number of strong commitments in regard to their coca sourcing and supply, particularly around human rights, land rights and child labour.” Waikato Valley spokesperson.
  • Whitakers Dark Ghana chocolate block is a Fair Trade.
  • Often local or craft chocolatiers use ethically sourced coca products.

For more information about slavery-free chocolate landmarks, the slavery-free certification program, the need for a living wage for cocoa farmers and the treatment of children in chocolate production, read A Matter of Taste.

What You Can Do?

  • Join with millions of people around the world who now buy and eat only slavery-free chocolate. To buy slavery-free Easter chocolate look for any of these certification labels on the wrappers: FairTrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ.
  • Talk about slavery-free chocolate – tell five friends or family members about slavery-free chocolate.
  • Invite others in your community to join the Slavery-free Easter campaign.
  • Pick your favourite chocolate Easter Egg. Find out if it is slavery-free chocolate.
  • If it is not slavery free chocolate, then write to the manufacturer i.e. Lindt, Cadbury etc and ask them when they plan to make the product using cocoa certified to be slavery free.
  • If your favourite chocolate is slavery-free write to the manufacturer and congratulate them on what they are doing towards the reduction of child slavery in West Africa.
  • Visit your local supermarket or café (if they stock chocolate) and congratulate them. Also ask them to commit to doubling the amount of slavery-free chocolate they stock next Easter.
  • Promote a Slavery Free Easter in parish and school newsletters.
  • Consider getting a hamper together to raise money to support groups that fight human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
  • Create awareness by asking people to contribute only slavery-free chocolate to the hamper.
  • If you are making up the hamper let people know that all the chocolate is slavery-free. This is a great way of spreading the word.

People Trafficking in New Zealand CWLANZ and ANZRATH Raise Awareness

CWLANZ and ANZRATH (Aotearoa and New Zealand Religious Against Human Trafficking) have joined together to raise awareness about the crime of people trafficking in New Zealand.  The subject is raised regularly so members can keep membership and their communities alert for the signs that exploitation is happening in their area.  The following is a precis of a talk given to the members of the Lower Hutt Branch last year.

An estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016 worldwide.  Of those 40.3 victims, 24.9 million were in forced labour.  They were deceived and forced to work under threat or coercion in industries such as construction, agriculture, horticulture, viticulture and fishing.  It is also particularly rife in the service industry.  Almost two thirds were in the Asia – Pacific region.  Therefore, New Zealand is not immune to this crime.

It is one of the world’s largest criminal industries, earning exploiters $150 billion a year.  With only 9,000 convictions globally in 2015, it remains a low risk, high profit crime with no signs of slowing down.  It is happening in New Zealand.

What is modern slavery and human trafficking?  Modern slavery is the umbrella term to refer to human trafficking, slavery and slave like practices such as servitude, forced labour, forced marriage, the sale and exploitation of children and debt bondage.

The definition of People Smuggling is the facilitated entry of an unauthorized migrant into New Zealand for financial or other material benefit. (Immigration NZ)

The desire to migrate for better opportunities is exploited by recruiters, agents, and employers.  Why don’t they complain or leave their exploitive situation?  Victims rarely identify themselves as victims.  The first trafficking conviction was in 2016 and the accused was jailed for nine and a half years and ordered to pay $28.000 to his victims.  At the same time another case was before the courts involving a New Zealand couple accused of exploiting five victims.  The case was brought by Immigration NZ.  There have been a number of arrests and court cases since.

What are we doing to address human trafficking and modern day slavery in New Zealand?  There is a growing Influence within Immigration NZ and the Ministry of Business and Innovation to work through an all government approach, partnering with stake holders in New Zealand, and to engage regionally and internationally.

If you or anyone you know, suspects that human trafficking or exploitation is happening you have three contacts to choose from – If an emergency,

  • Call 111 for police;
  • Labour Inspectorate contact centre 0800209020;
  • Crimestoppers

High Tea for friends and families

New Diocesan President of Palmerston North, Pat O’Connor, presides over a beautifully presented fine dining experience for parishioners, families and friends so they could experience coming together to do something different and worthwhile in their parish.

Guests were entertained by pupils from Sacred heart College performing Shakespeare and singing in their junior choir.

At previous meetings, a parishioner, who had nursed her husband suffering from Motor Neurone Disease, spoke of the progressively debilitating disease and its affect on all involved.

The field officer of MND for Waikato/Taranaki had also talked at meetings. For more information on MND visit https:/

Passionate to help Motor Neurone Disease sufferers

Susan Dickson thanks Julie Hooper for her informative narrative of the work of the Motor Neurone Disease Support members at the Regional meeting.

Julie Hooper joined MND New Zealand (our 2018 At Home Appeal), recently as a support worker, but she has held a similar position in the UK for several years.

She shared her passion for helping people and families living with motor neurone disease with Christchurch Region Three members at a meeting in Methven.

Julie’s territory includes most of the South Island.

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is the name of a group of diseases that cause the death of the nerve cells (neurones) that control the muscles that enable us to move, speak, swallow and breathe.

Degeneration of the motor neurones result in progressive muscle wasting and weakness because the nerve supply to the muscles is impaired.

Julie’s presentation gave her listeners a good understanding of the facts around MND.

  • The number of people living with MND in NZ is around 300 each year with there being up to a one in 300 change of developing MND. MND effects people from all communities and walks of life.
  • Most people diagnosed with MND are over the age of 40 and it effects more men than women.
  • Most people with MND will live for two – four years after symptoms appear but some can live ten years or more.
  • Each week MND will cause the death of two people in NZ. This disease is more often not linked to any family history, only 10% of cases are shown to be inherited.

These facts and the stories of some of the people she supports in her work moved the audience and made them enthusiastic to get behind our 2018 At Home Appeal.

The MND NZ website is a valuable resource,

As well as more detailed information about the disease and inspiring personal stories, there is a great Fundraise For Us page. Check out the A-Z of fundraising ideas. There are some really fun ideas.

The response to our At Home Appeal is always humbling. It is another way to live Margaret Fletcher’s charism, to live Faith and Service.

The response to our At Home Appeal is always humbling.

It is another way to live Margaret Fletcher’s charism, to live Faith and Service.


A heroic life of service and compassion

Val Langley, Mary Slattery as Mother Aubert, and Susan Dickson

The Christchurch Branch of NCW held the Annual Hilda Lowell Function in October to mark the anniversary of the founding of National Council of Women.

To coincide with 125 Years of Women’s Suffrage, the theme was Women who had Made a Difference in New Zealand Society over the past 125 years. The idea was for members to present/represent a chosen woman.

The CWL chose Mother Suzanne Aubert.

Mary Slattery (Christchurch Diocesan Minute Secretary) was dressed beautifully as Suzanne by Jenny Muschamp (National Mission Secretary). Val Langley (Christchurch Diocesan President) and Susan Dickson (National President) were Suzanne’s helpers collecting goods for the needy of Wellington as they told her story.

Many of those present had never heard of Suzanne and her work. Her story created a buzz of interest in her life and in the process of her canonization.

All agreed that she was an inspiring woman who followed her own path.

More information about her life can be found on the website of the Sisters of Compassion.

Plunket babies gain water confidence

Plunkett babies to gain water confidence courtesy of The Te Awamutu Branch of Catholic Women’s League who obtained funds from the Hugo Trust to assist

With New Zealanders being so close to water and enjoying all the water related activities available it is so very important for babies and children to have confidence and skills when in and near water.

Parents and care givers also need to learn skills to help them supervise children near water.

In December some members were invited to watch the first lesson given by a qualified instructor.  Everyone was enjoying themselves and were learning without stress.

End of Life Choice Bill

The current issue the Care Alliance is engaging with is David Seymour’s End of Life Bill, which seeks to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand. Find out more about what’s been happening and how the Care Alliance is involved below.


Like an umbrella, good care shelters a person in adverse conditions, enabling a journey from one place to another that can be shared with others.

icare represents a commitment to excellent care to enable good living and good dying.

icare is the Care Alliance’s major information campaign featuring short videos of 20 New Zealanders who share their disability, palliative care, medical and legal perspectives highlighting the risks and fallacies of the End of Life Choice Bill.

View more information and the videos at

What do we do with all that Plastic?

Here is one answer to the problem of what to do with all that plastic that accumulates in our resource parks about the country.

In the past year Branches were exploring ways in which we, as individuals and communities, could influence what was happening to our environment by changing the way we do things.

In Christchurch, a company called Clever Green Ltd, Remix Plastic project, managed by Anthea and Daniel Madill, are finding ways to re-use plastic in a variety of products.

Some of these ventures are still small but there is the potential to expand – not just in size but through the country.

Read more

Celebration and joy in Palmerston North

Back: New Diocesan President, Pat O’Connor; Past Diocesan President, Rae O’Grady.
Middle: Kath de Latour, Liz Koorey, Janice Goldsworthy, Jan Jobbins.
Front: Emily Rose, Fay Murcott, Liz Barnham

The Palmerston North branch is attempting to be seen as vibrant, relevant, accepting, warm and open to new ideas, and it seems to be paying off.

It recently had four new members including two Filipino women.

Asking the second Filipino woman what attracted her to the group, she replied, “For the pleasure of being with like-minded women.”

The mission and purpose of our Founder Margaret Fletcher – the education of women enabling them to be an informed voice for good in the world – is no less relevant today as it was all those years ago.

While it is our Faith which binds us together and our service to others ensuring our relevance in today’s world, in our fractured world it is with mercy and courage that we need to use our voice and our skills for the poor the powerless and disadvantaged.

We are women welcoming change and enjoying companionship friendship fun and personal and spiritual growth.