“Mana Wahine is…”

A presentation to Mana Wahine: Showcasing the mahi of Wāhine Māori, Auckland Women’s Centre, Western Springs Community Garden Centre, Tāmaki Makaurau. October 9th, 2018.

He mihi maioha ki a Dayle Takitimu, Kathie Irwin, Rachel Brown, Kiterangi and Te Rehua Cameron, Whetu Fala, Maree Sheehan, Mera Penehira, Naomi Simmonds, Al Green, Kaapua Smith, Sina Brown Davis, Marnie Reinfeld, Ali Newth, Tina Ngata, Huia Hanlen, Gina Rangi, Sarah Jane Tiakiwai, Rihi Te Nana, Renae Maihi, Tammy Tauroa, Louisa Wall, Hineitimoana Greensill, Marama Davidson, Ninakaye Taanetinorau, Jenny Lee-Morgan, Moana Maniapoto, Annette Sykes.

This morning I attended a Waikato-Tainui Iwi summit and was reminded of the many incredible insights that our tupuna left us as guidance and learnings. Te Puea we know worked tirelessly for the people. She knew the power of having collective dreams and visions for the people. She worked and strategised for the benefit of the iwi. In the many tongikura (prophetic saying) attributed to Te Puea she provides us with learnings and calls on us all to aspire to a world within which all can dream for, and achieve, success. One of those sayings is,

Mehemea ka moemoeā ahau, ko ahau anake
Mehemea ka moemoeā tātou, ka taea e tātou,
If I dream alone only I benefit
If we all dream together we can all succeed together

In this tongi at its most simplistic level she reminds us to dream. For all of our people dreaming is important. Dreaming is life. Dreaming is knowledge. Dreaming is vision. Dreaming is a learning space. It is an ancestral teaching place. It is a spiritual and cultural based learning centre. Dreaming is methodology. Dreaming is pedagogy. This tongi also brings forward the strength of the collective. Te Puea highlights our collective responsibilities, our collective obligations, our collective accountabilities and our collective power of working for a common cause, for the wellbeing of the people. In preparing for this kōrero I felt it would was important to share wider collective views about Mana Wahine means for us as wāhine Māori. So I asked a range of wāhine to finish this sentence.

Mana Wahine is…

In doing so I was asking for wahine to share their whakaaro about what Mana Wahine means to them, what it ‘is’, not what it ‘is not’ as we are often told what we are not to do as wahine Māori, and often by others. But what I know is that many of those exact things we are told wahine Māori ‘do not do’, I or wahine that I know have actually done. So what does Mana Wahine mean to us, this particular collective of wāhine Māori at this point in time. I want to share those thoughts with you tonight and alongside you will see the names of each of those wahine that contributed their whakaaro.

Our collective Voices

Mana Wahine is …

… everything we ever were, are and will be – and in any moment everything we need it to be, it’s badassery, shape-shifting and our unique collective pulse.
… cackling laughter about mischief things, itchy wool blankets and real butter on fry bread. Dayle Takitimu

… where I learned stragy, vision, resistance and heart, from my maternal grandmother, my mother and my daughter”. Kathie Irwin

… having the strength to show vulnerability so that others may also grow and know they are not alone. Rachel Brown

… unapologetic! Kiterangi and Te Rehua Cameron

… utilising our divinity for the everyday-ness of mahi. Whetu Fala

… the past present and future. Maree Sheehan

… my grandmothers my mother my aunties, my sisters, my daughters and my mokopuna yet to come.Ko te mana wāhine ko ngā taupuwae a rātou, a tātou katoa nei wāhine mā. Mera Penehira

… dreams of our tūpuna embodied by us. It is our triumphs, our struggles, the lessons we learn and the teachings we share as Māori women, descendants of visionaries, dreamers, fighters and healers.
… theorizing over burgers and fries with your soul sisters Naomi Simmonds

… He tira wahine, he rongo ā whare!
… raising our children to live in relationship to everything because everything is always present. Al Green

… my nanny. Loving, fierce, loyal, proud…and, occasionally, sharp tongued. Kaapua Smith

… the power and presitige of the universe and the land, it is elemental, fertile, powerful
…. is the conduit between the spiritual and physical realms
… the protection and continuation of life. Sina Brown Davis

… frying the bread, doing the karanga, singing the waiata tautoko, poring the tea, drying the dishes, scrubbing the loos all while you have a baby on the breast Marnie Reinfelds

… ko au, ko koe, ko ia, ko tātau. Ali Newth

… Ko te mana wāhine, te mana whānau, Ko te mana wāhine, te mana wai, Ko te mana wāhine, te mana whenua, Ko te mana wāhine, te mana tieki, te mana whāngae pōtiki, whānau, hāpori. Tina Ngata

… being whoever you need to be. Huia Hanlen

… listening to your nanny’s quiet voice in your heart, when everyone else is yelling at you. Gina Rangi

… like flickering flames of memories, scars, tears, thoughts, hopes and dreams that you carry with you every day, constantly fanning them into your burning and passionate desire to leave this world a little bit better than when you entered it. Sarah Jane Tiakiwai

… Ko te hua o te mana wahine, ko te pono, te tika me te aroha ki a mātou nei tamariki mokopuna, a mātou whānau, me a mātou hapu, i te ao, i te po ahakoa te aha! Rihi Te Nana

… an understanding that Mana in its original source comes from the Atua & lives within us all. That is the spirit, power, ihi, wehi & mana of Papatuanuku & her descendants. As we know her descendants include Atua Taane therefore to me Mana wahine is the balancing & nurturing of the MANA of nga Atua Wahine ME nga Atua Tane that exists in us all. Renae Maihi

… imbued in our whakapapa and has the vested power to transform our realities Tammy Tauroa

… action, dynamic and purposeful. Doing for others, because someone must, doing what is right, role or not. Challenging and disrupting. Leaving a legacy that helps not hurts and makes us proud so we can hold our heads high. Louisa Wall

… a whakapapa that connects me to generations of strong, powerful women
… My grandmother, the absolute embodiment of mana wahine; reflected in her thoughts, her actions, what she stood for and how she carried herself in the world. Hineitimoana Greensill

… a collective power. Our individual embodiment of it is part of a whole that connects us to ancient tupuna and mokopuna yet to come. We can ground ourselves in it whether we are planting kai for our whānau, nursing sick tamariki, revitalising our reo and our tikanga, lawyering, researching, politicianing – as well as when we are in jail, when we are struggling and when we are lost. We can call on it and we are accountable to it in all the facets and changes of our lives. Marama Davidson

… to rise cloaked with courage, armed with truth, bathed in light. Ninakaye Taanetinorau

… knowing that we are the living stories of our ancestors and are storying the lives of our mokopuna. Jenny Lee-Morgan

… exists in every woman, whether she is a flamethrower or stealth bomber, a plant or a placeholder. … both tangible and barely discernible, a particular mauri unique to wāhine Māori that resonates with the mauri in all women. It is about connection – to generations past, to the land and to each other.
… about holding the line, even if we are staring each other down across those lines. Moana Maniapoto

… Creating from the ancients, sentinels of the present, creators of the future,
… I am, We are, Us all. Annette Sykes

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