Anne Tolley : Hands off Te Whare Tangata ! Guest Blog by Te Ao Pritchard Te Awhi Paa Trust


“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

References :

(1) PUAO-TE-ATA-TU (day break)


(2) Ngāhuia Murphy, 2013, Te Awa Atua: menstruation in the pre-colonial Māori world.  He Puna Manawa Ltd


Author: Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

2 thoughts on “Anne Tolley : Hands off Te Whare Tangata ! Guest Blog by Te Ao Pritchard Te Awhi Paa Trust”

  1. Beautifully said… I support you. Here in Australia where we moved when I was a teenager some 25 years ago from NZ there is a brilliant campaign by the grandmothers of Aboriginal Children who are removed from the car of their parents for little reasons making it the second Stolen Generation. These Grandmothers are doing what they can to protect and bring their grandchildren home. Its been really bad here. I heard of one hospital in northern NSW where sweet midwives and nurses whisper to their Aboriginal patients dont state your Aboriginality on

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