Māori women say traditional values are the key to combatting violence – media release

Media release 24 November 2013

white ribbon

 Te Wharepora Hou Māori women’s group calls on Māori across the country to commit to removing family violence by returning to traditional values and practices. 

“The violence experienced in our home and whānau is a direct outcome of colonisation which has removed whānau from the tikanga that mitigates such abuse” said Associate Professor Leonie Pihama of Waikato University. “We must not tolerate this form of destruction within our homes. Nor should we tolerate the ongoing violence perpetuated by the Crown on our whānau” she states.
 Te Wharepora Hou has been working to raise awareness of a range of issues that impact on Māori whānau.  Founding member Marama Davidson is also a part of the Glenn Inquiry into domestic violence and child abuse. She has been on the panels to ensure the voices of all whānau are heard, including Māori women and children.  “Māori women are saying very clearly that our values need to return to collective responsibility. They want better connected communities and have experienced how isolation has removed them from a shared intolerance on violence.” 
The rate of Family Violence for Māori is disproportionately high. Te Wharepora Hou is committed to providing information to support to Māori Providers and Healers at the forefront of supporting whānau to wellbeing.  Dr Pihama is a Principal Investigator in the Health Research Council Funded programme ‘He Kokonga Whare’. The programme was awarded to Te Atawhai o Te Ao Research Institute (Whanganui) to investigate issues of Historical and Intergenerational Trauma on Māori.  “The programme is at the cutting edge of engaging Historical Trauma and the need for Trauma informed approaches in Aotearoa” says Dr Pihama.  “This work contributes to an understanding of the origins of whānau violence in Aotearoa that stems from genocidal and ethnocidal acts imposed on whānau, hapū and iwi”. 
Te Wharepora Hou calls on whānau, hapū and iwi to take a zero tolerance stand on violence within and against whānau.
Release Ends
Listen to Dr Leonie Pihama on Radio Waatea talking about the issue here.
Marama Davidson 021 025 88302
Dr Leonie Pihama 021 274 1177

National Day of Action Against Rape Culture – Marama Davidson speech

Marama Davidson speaking at Myers Park - March Against Rape Culture
Speaking at Myers Park – March Against Rape Culture

Below is a ‘tamer’ and extended version of the speech I offered to the Auckland march and rally against rape culture held on Saturday 16 November 2013.

Pink sign rape culture

“Kia ora koutou katoa

Firstly I acknowledge the mana whenua iwi and hapū of Tāmaki Makaurau whose lands we have just trampled on to march against rape culture. We acknowledge the very oppressions you have faced as Tāngata Whenua.

I am from Te Wharepora Hou Māori women’s group and today I speak as a mother, sister, daughter, aunty, friend and wife. I am Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi and Te Rarawa.

I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the organisers and your monumental efforts to see our country marching collectively to stamp on rape culture today. Thank you for inviting me to speak.

I want to offer a specific Māori women’s voice on the experience and response to any sexual violence. Māori are twice as likely to be affected by sexual violence but far less likely to access services. By no means do I wish to disregard the experience of any other group but there are learning’s for us all in presenting our specific experiences.
This sad statistic of Māori women and sexual violence sits in stark contrast to Māori women’s traditional status in pre-colonial society. Our pre-patriarchal Māori women held leadership positions in our spiritual, military, economic, political and cultural spheres. Part of the key to combating rape culture is to understand how the position of all women, including Māori women has been undermined by the dominating oppressive patriarchy. This does not deny that men are also victims of abuse. A better world for us all is one that acknowledges that each individual member of our family and community units is integral to the survival of the whole.

The rape culture that we experience today draws its oxygen from an unequal and unjust way of living. The rape culture we experience today disregards the tapu and sacred importance of consent over our bodies. The rape culture that we experience today overlooks the genesis of Māori women and our whakapapa to strong and powerful figures that honour us as whare tangata. Women are the bearers of humans and humanity.

For too long our Māori women narratives of power and equilibrium have been silenced. These narratives placed us in equal, respectful and complimentary relationships alongside our men and all genders. But the imposed trajectory has been devastating for Māori women and Māori whānau and we have much work to do to recover from it. Part of that devastation manifests itself in the shocking instance of Māori women and sexual violence that I mentioned at the start of this kōrero.

The spiritual links Māori women have to all parts of our human and non-human world uphold the inherent mana and tapu of our bodies. As this fundamental value of our bodies is destroyed, respect and dignity for each other is no longer automatically assumed. Furthermore this lack of respect is ingrained in our institutions so that the incident of sexual violence is only the first assault. The violation continues with the attitudes that line our power centres such as the police and the media. Rape culture is reflected in the language we use, the media we are dominated with, the marketing we are subjected to and the lack of education we receive. Rape culture is what happens when you deny women’s voices and participation at all levels of decision making and community advocacy.

So the subjugation of any woman today fails us all, and certainly sits in sharp contrast to our status as Māori women pre-colonisation. Certainly I do not believe that the current warped expectations of masculinity on our Māori men have worked for them at all, or for any men in our society. These warped concepts of masculinity do not even work for the stupid men who think they are enjoying their abuse of power. What sort of legacy do they leave for this world with their misogynist contributions? I pity them.

Rape apologists do nothing to inform and educate us so I applaud the stand made by many to get those mouths metaphorically taped. Besides, they have all had their damaging turns for far too long. And we need to do more taping of mouths. The dogma of people defending freedom of speech can go take a leap because they are confusing that freedom with a specific male privilege afforded to a few. It is this PRIVILEGE that has amplified their harmful irrelevant voices on dominating platforms. That is not freedom of speech and it is certainly NOT MERIT!

We recently saw Bob Jones stick up for rapists – we need to send strong messages to say Bob your time is over.

We also saw Willie and JT – and for a while their time is over in some part of broadcasting.

We now face further racist, sexist, anti-everybody slurs from the arrogant and ignorant musings of Paul Henry who will be paid hugely by Mediaworks for his repugnant vitriol and we need to send a strong message that his time is over.

Rape culture draws each breath from male privilege and in turn allows complete nongs to have symbolic megaphones when really we should be ripping it out of their hands. There are better voices to put up. Patriarchy draws its breath from all forms of oppression therefore we must fight it on all fronts.

Now is the time to talk about our collective responsibility towards one another and towards our place. Now is the time to talk about taking all forms of sexual violence seriously and standing beside all survivors to ensure healing, redress and justice. Now is the time to talk about men, women and all genders sharing rights and power. Now is the time to insist that our marginalised voices are amplified – the voices of people with disabilities, the voices of women and children, the voices of good men, the voices that speak to a progressive, secure and bright future for us all instead of for just a few. Now is the time to foster a community that would have seen those young roastbusting men rather starting a facebook page deploring all acts of sexual violence against their community sisters.

There is certainly a framework of equilibrium grounded in a Māori worldview that can contribute to this better vision for us all – a vision which leads us away from the stench of oppression and towards the sweeter smelling inclusive society that I believe we all want.

Thanks again to the organizers around the country who have brought us all together today. It has been my pleasure to support this national day of action against rape culture. It has been my honour to share some dreaming with you all.

Kia ora tātou katoa”

Open Letter to John and Willie

Willie Jackson and John Tamihere
Willie Jackson and John Tamihere

Tena korua John and Willie

Yesterday we were sent the link to your radio programme of your discussion with ‘Amy’. Listening to your programme is a rare event in both of our whare. Why? Because the views you espouse are on the whole conservative, often ignorant and nearly always sexist. So we are not surprised with the misogynistic undertones of how you spoke to ‘Amy’.

What is saddening is the fact that you seem to have absolutely no awareness or experience of the impact of rape on the lives of it’s victims and survivors.

What is disturbing is that you show no empathy for the pain and ongoing distress caused by sexual violence on entire whanau.

What is alarming is that with all the involvement you have in providing programmes within urban Maori communities that you remain ignorant of the destruction caused by rape culture.

What is disconcerting is that you have no sense of understanding for how difficult it is to talk to others about being raped, about sexual violence, about family violence let alone what it means to be 14, 15 or 16 years old.

What is disgusting is that you seem to revel in the deep-seated ignorance on these issues.

Rape, whether it be of a woman abducted, or of a mother catching a bus home after work, or of a young woman out for drinks with her friends, or of any woman in her own home by someone she knows – is rape.

Rape, John and Willie, is rape.

Rape, John, is not about “how free and easy are you kids out there these days”.

Rape, Willie, is not about how you are too young to have a drink out with friends.

Rape has nothing to do with if they are good looking. ‘Good looking’ men rape too Willie.

Rape – John and Willie – is rape.

Your continual use of media to promote sexist, anti-Maori women sentiments, and rape culture can only be a reflection of your own beliefs about women. There is no other reason for the flow of misogynistic diatribe that falls so easily from your mouths.

This is not the first time that you have both supported rapists or deeply offensive sexist behaviour. It is a consistent activity on your part. Dismissal of women, marginalisation of Maori women and the promotion of male supremacy is commonplace on your shows and in your commentary. This is not the first time we have called you out on that.

These girls and young women are peoples’ friends, daughters, sisters, cousins, grandaughters. Women raped by those men you support and promote are daughters, sisters, cousins, grandaughters. That is what you are promoting Willy and John. You are supporting and promoting a rape culture that lays blame at the feet of those women who should in society be free to have a drink, wear whatever they wish, go out with friends and feel safe to do so.

You need to think of all the women in your whanau and in your circles, John and Willie. You need to see the act of rape as an act of abuse, an act of power and an act that instills fear, and act that impacts on all women, on all wahine Maori including all those wahine within your own whanau. Perhaps then you would be less dismissive of their pain and less promoting of the violent acts being perpetuated everyday on our wahine.

There were some pertinent questions you could have asked yesterday to instead call our rape culture, our systemic enforcement of it and our everyday sexism to account. We never expected this of you both because that takes real journalism.

Both of you alongside Radio Live AT THE LEAST owe a formal full and unconditional apology to all who have experienced sexual abuse and rape. You owe an apology to their families. You owe an apology to any human who has been disgusted by your remarks yesterday and your attitude towards ‘Amy’ and all like her.

Yesterday we put out a public call to Radio Live for Marama Davidson to talk on your show but not to debate the validity of your attitude. There is no argument there. You are simply wrong and likely to have caused further harm to any person triggered by your ignorance. We would have appreciated the chance to be a voice to unpick that harm and call you to account and most importanly, to stand in support of ‘Amy’ and all like her. We are still waiting for your invite……..

We hope you have the sense to reflect on your actions. We hope you and Radio Live at the least offer a formal apology.

Na matou
Te Wharepora Hou Maori Women’s Group
Dr Leonie Pihama and Marama Davidson

Marama Davidson
021 025 88302

UPDATE 08 Nov. Support for survivors and whanau:
Te Wharepora Hou are grateful for the many stories shared by people here in response to this Open Letter. Your generosity allows us to remain informed of the challenges that people face in dealing with rape and sexual abuse of any kind. Many of your experiences and questions require professional services to provide the appropriate support. We would encourage people to approach any of the agencies as a starting point that are listed on this Wellington Rape Crisis website.

Media follow on:

Radio NZ Morning Report panel discussion from Friday 08 Nov with Marama Davidson, Dr Kim McGregor and Russell Smith.

Te Kaea news interview from Tuesday 05 Nov with Marama Davidson.

Women Power – Episode 1 including Marama Davidson

Hosted by Catriona MacLennan – feminist and lawyer.

Tania Pouwhare and Sabrina Muck speak at the beginning about where Aotearoa needs to do more work towards equality for women and other gender issues.

Marama Davidson speaks from 14:00 about the lack of Maori women’s voices in mainstream media and politics.

Māori women’s voices in politics – protecting our environment and our people

Marama with Dame Nganeko Minhinnick (middle) and Mary-ann Harris at Nganeko's investiture ceremony.
Marama with Dame Nganeko Minhinnick (middle) and
Mary-ann Harris at Nganeko’s investiture ceremony.

“Today I am a Māori woman carving out a space to reflect on our unique relationship with Papatūānuku and our roles as kaitiaki and defenders of our lands, seas and people. This discussion throws a light on how the voices of wāhine are held in certain political arenas and what this means for Aotearoa as we ponder our economic, social, environmental and cultural future.”

Read the full blog here.

Women and Global movements – Occupy Savvy interviews Marama Davidson

Women and global movements – Occupy Savvy interviews Marama Davidson

Marama Davidson
Marama Davidson

Please go to the above link where Occupy Savvy interviews Marama Davidson around global movements and the role of women in them.

“In the Occupy Movement in Aotearoa, my small contribution was merely to speak up as a Māori woman and for our group Te Wharepora Hou (TWH). TWH is a group of wāhine Māori who support each other to use our voices collectively and individually as we feel the need to. The imperative to speak up recognises that for too long there has been a silencing of the diverse voices and opinions of Māori women, in spite of the incredible staunch wāhine that have been instrumental to positive change in our communities and our nation. Our purpose is to have a say on all issues that impact on the well-being of whānau (family), hapū (extended family) and iwi (tribes) and our natural living system. By this standard we could provide a critique on every issue under the sun and moon but we do what we can when we can. We do not claim to have any mandate to speak on behalf of all Māori but we surely claim our voices as Māori women, as mothers, as grandmothers and as members of our respective whānau, hapū and iwi.”

Interview with Marama Davidson – Visions for a better world

Marama-Davidson-180Interview with Marama Davidson – Visions for a better world

Thanks Aindriu Macfehin for capturing this 9 minute interview in the link above. It is a discussion around my role as a social justice advocate with the following questions:

“What has led you to be doing the work you are doing?”
I talk about growing up with activist parents.

“Describe your perfect world.”
I talk about the concepts of ownership and sharing.

Big questions.
This was part of an exhibition work that Aindriu did for his Fine Arts work.