Lainey Cowan

A 'hybrid' of Scottish, Manx, Swiss and Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Pou

At the time WARAG was formed I was in my first decade of social work practice and had been recruited from Te Whanganui a-Tara (Wellington) to a position created as a response to Māori and community outcry about the number of indigenous (and other brown) children and young people in State institutions in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). When 'Matua Whāngai' - another response of the State to the same concerns - was set up, I transitioned to that position. I remained in Social Work, then Community Development roles in various parts of central government for the remainder of my 'working life'. Now, in my ‘retirement', I am a restorative justice facilitator for the adult courts in Te Whanganui a-Tara.

The story of the Women’s Anti Racism Action Group (W.A.R.A.G) 1982 – 1985.

"Members of the Women’s Anti Racism Action Group were feminist women staff members working in the Department of Social Welfare Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Department of Social Welfare was the then central government agency with responsibility for income support and child welfare.

We will tell the story of why we formed, describe the context of the time, how we developed as a group, why we published the report “Institutional Racism-DSW Tāmaki Makaurau” (1984) and what it covered.

We will consider the impact of our work within the institution of Department of Social Welfare and beyond, the personal impact on our individual members, and also what we have learned from our experience of trying to change an institution from the inside.

You can read the report here: https://trc.org.nz/sites/trc.org.nz/files/Institutional%20Racism%20WARAG.pdf

Lainey Cowan