“Ka Ora te wahine Puapua Ka ora te Whānau – Pūāwai Ka ora te Hapū – Pūāwānanga Ka ora te Hapū – Pūāwānanga.”
If the woman is cherished, then the family will have wellness – In turn the communities will be strong, thus the beauty of the tribe will be seen. na Ngatai Huata
In 1988 the groundbreaking report, PUAO-TE-ATA-TU, into the Institutional racism of the the Social welfare Department noted “ At the heart of the issue is a profound misunderstanding or ignorance of the place of the child in Maori society and its relationship with whanau, hapu, iwi structures.”This was in response to the deprivation that Maori whanau face and the mass removal of our children from whanau into the ‘care of the state’. (1)
Twenty seven years later Anne Tolley the Minister for Social Development wants to find a way of stopping the most at-risk beneficiaries from having more children.
The purpose of this vicious campaign has been to avoid any probing of the deeper social causes . Anne Tolley’s ‘final solution’ for our struggling whanau is aimed at directing any real examination away from where the real responsibility lies—with successive governments of all stripes and their social agendas.
This is offensive and racist social engineering. 35 % of all children taken into the ‘care of the state are Maori. Maori are easy to be forgotten as the rubbish of structural adjustment. Maori still haven’t recovered from the extremist economic “reforms” of the eighties when an entire generation of Maori & Pacific Island children and youth has suffered under those reforms, and to this very day remain stigmatised, marginalised and brutalised by harsh economic conditions.
Anne Tolley’s attack on Maori women, and our ability to control our own fertility and decide when we want to have children is a return to the assimilation agenda of the 1950’s.
Māori culture aligns women with the land, because the land gives birth to humankind just as women do. As the world was born from Papatūānuku, so humankind is born from women. A woman’s womb, called te whare tangata (the house of humanity), is seen as the same as the womb of the earth.
As te whare tangata and te whare o aituā Māori were (and are) clearly engaged in the production of culture. Our reproductive bodies represent the continuation of whakapapa, and the survival of whanau, hapu, and iwi. (2)
‘Whereas the woman’s body is a sacred place and in protection of sacred places, the woman’s body, the woman’s womb and the birthing places of all the female nations, must also be protected, and this is the first step to protect the child, to protect the future’ . In the waiata, the purakau, the whakatauaki o Aotearoa, we are familiar with the notion that ‘Ko te wahine te kaitiaki o te whare tangata’ (women are the guardians of the house of humanity).
Women are therefore imbued with a status which requires care, protection and respect in honour of the expectation that in protecting the child, we are indeed protecting the future. (3)
Maori women’s place in their whanau, culture and society shows the impact of colonisation, assimilation and urbanisation which had resulted in the loss of Maori culture and the low socio-economic position of many of the women and their whanau find themselves in today.
Even though great stress often placed on whanau, against the odds the strength and maturity of the Maori women, has overcome the hardship and difficult circumstances they experience.
Our wahine require protection and our whanau need to be uplifted, they need to be supported not judged. Maori must be empowered and resourced to care for and look after our women, our children and our whanau.
Let us give the support our mothers, babies and whanau need and keep these vultures away from their mission to destroy and assimilate us. Haere atu Anne Tolley Hands off our Whare Tangata !
By Te Ao Pritchard
Ngāti Kahu, Ngā Kuri, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Vaigaga, Aleisa
Te Awhi Paa Trust
For comment please contact : 0274578326
(1) PUAO-TE-ATA-TU (day break)
THE REPORT OF THE MINISTERIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON A MAORI PERSPECTIVE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE 1988
(2) Ngāhuia Murphy, 2013, Te Awa Atua: menstruation in the pre-colonial Māori world. He Puna Manawa Ltd