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Employer stands up for Mama Tere

Fri 24 Sep 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Mama Tere Strickland Mama Tere Strickland's employer has come to her defence, following stinging criticism of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation's decision to honour her with Life Membership. The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective is urging the NZAF to reconsider the accolade for the trans prostitutes' outreach worker. It says many transgender sex workers say their lives would have been very different if they had not met Strickland. NZPC claims Strickland took in young trans people and was paid to look after them, put them out to work on the street and took their money. It also accuses Strickland of using standover tactics with other street workers and taking their money. Christchurch NZPC worker Anna Reed has even refused a Life Membership of her own, as she does not want to be honoured beside Strickland. She says although these things may have happened in the past, they have left lasting memories. Strickland herself is hesitant to comment in depth at this stage, beyond saying that it's not the first time such issues have been raised. "There's a group of them that have it in for me and tried it on when I stood for the Maori Party, so I'm not shocked by this," she wrote to GayNZ.com Daily News. "I don't have a problem what people say about me, I just wish they'd face me and whoever started this confront me, [rather] than plaster bad things about me." Peter Sykes has employed Strickland for the past ten years at the Mangere East Family Service Centre. He is making contact with both the NZPC and NZAF, but seems confident that although Strickland has made mistakes in the past, everything has been above board while she has worked for him. "There have been historical journeys, but in the past 10 years Mama has not been 'taking' people in or controlling their funds," he says. "The funding Mama is involved with all comes through me … and does not seek to speak or work for the past. It is sad that journeys become blocked, and does not allow people to move on. If people concerned want to redress the past they are welcome to get in touch with me."    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 24th September 2010 - 1:50pm

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