Te mana o nga wahine

In the last decade of the nineteenth century, wahine Māori were involved in two suffrage movements:

  • seeking the right to vote in the New Zealand parliament;

  • and the right to vote and stand in the Māori Parliament – Te Kotahitanga.

By the turn of the century both these goals had been achieved.

On 19 September 1893 a new Electoral Act was signed making Aotearoa the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote.

A call for Māori women to communicate with each other through the Māori newspapers was taken up by women such as Niniwa i te Rangi, Meri Mangakahia and Pani Te Tau.    These papers inspired wahine Māori to collectively organise and to speak with a unified voice.

One of these women was Pani Parata o Ngai Tahu.  Pani Parata married Taiawhio Tikawenga Te Tau in 1894 at Puketeraki.  Pani was a licensed interpreter and a talented pianist.   She was the editor of Matuhi from 1903-1905, a weekly Māori language newspaper.   Social entrepreneurship and multi-tasking is not just a 21st century phenomenon.  

On 19 September 2018, we remember all of the wahine Māori who have mobilised, galvanised and energised those who have descended from them.

He pai te tirohanga ki nga mahara mo nga ra pahemo engari ka puta te maramatanga i runga i te titiro whakamua.

The power and potential of wahine Māori is expressed in multiple ways throughout the Whānau Ora approach.  

There are the writers and artists : the women who have brought Reo Pepi into life; or brought together the writings of their whānau in the Ties that Bind us.

There are the gardeners  - and the healers – who have set up maara kai; gathered rongoa; created organic condiments; established pesto from puha; set our souls on fire through the magic of the Kakano café.

We have a sisterhood in many ways – the Gift Sisters in Wairau; the sisters behind Waka Whenua in Motueka – creating biodegradable, beautiful containers for ipu whenua.

There are mothers and daughters – the Corstorphine Hub in Dunedin; Rangatahi Tumeke in the Catlins; working together for whānau with whānau.

We have sisters of kind – Angels Trio– starting from the basis of preparing and serving kai for whānau who are living in Nelson.

There is the dynamic Yoga Warrior has pioneered Yoga in schools – and in te reo.   Over in Te Tai Poutini we have Hikoi Waewae; creating stories out of the tribal landscape while at the same time focusing on health and wellbeing.

We have the healing hands of KOHA – Kia Ora Hands Aotearoa; the leadership of Whakamana Ngati Kuri – helping to keep whānau strong – te mana kaha o te whānau.

And in Murihiku, Waiora Parenting progamme is driven by parents and whanau – embracing haputanga, whanau hononga, nurturing the growth of our pepi.

Me aro ki teo Hine-ahu-one Pay heed to the mana of women.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu acknowledges the strength, the resilience, the talents and the entrepreneurial magic of the wāhine of Whānau Ora.    Your sacrifice and legacy is changing lives for the generations to come.

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