Mana Wahine... Ko Au?
Here we are, sitting in the Matariki room at Te Herenga Waka. A group of Māori students sharing our ideas for the upcoming issue of Te Ao Marama. I’m writing a feature piece on Mana Wahine and feel warm inside to be sharing the room with all of the tauira who surround the table alongside me.
Awkwardly, I share the ideas I had for the Mana Wahine piece with the group. I always get a bit nervous speaking in front of people. At the time I didn’t say it exactly like this - but now when I rehash it in my head it kind of sounds like…
Tauira to the right, tauira to the left.
“I haven’t really thought about it yet... I could do this... or I could do that... maybe a compilation of the thoughts of prominent Mana Wahine academics...?” To which the editor interrupts me and says “you know you could do it on yourself? And even the women you know around you?”
My mind starts to whirr. Mana wahine... a woman with mana… me? Are you saying that I might be accessing the power of mana wahine?
Now when I refer to mana wahine, I am in this instance referring to women who may or may not be accessing the mana of the ātua. Wāhine with mana. I know this might be judgemental, but I take a good long look at the Māori women sitting in the room with me and I think to myself, “of course THEY are wāhine with mana.” Wāhine who are writing, wāhine who are sharing, wāhine who are speaking their truth.
And I think about the academics whose views I was going to share; Leonie Pihama, Linda Tuhiwai-Smith, Aroha Yates, Ngahuia Murphy and those even closer to home as a student here at Vic; Rawinia Higgins, Maria Bargh, Ocean Mercier, Karena Kelly, Awanui Te Huia among countless others.
Again, in my mind, I’m like “THEY are DEFINITELY wāhine with mana.” Insert excited emoticons x 10.
These women are grandmothers, mothers, doing important research, on heaps of Māori related boards with cool names, educating and teaching, involved with their hapū, iwi and their communities... the list goes on literally pretty much forever.
Then my mind crosses to the wāhine ātua and I’m like “omg these wāhine are the epitome of wāhine with mana.” The be all and the end all.
I mean Papatūānuku is the ENTIRE EARTH and Hinetītama she was the first human fucking being who then became Hine-nui-te-Pō and crushed the demi-god Māui (which sometimes people think was bad for humanity and stuff because now we are mortal, but really I think it’s a bit badass because seriously, he went there without asking for permission first).
Then there’s Hineteiwaiwa who with her fellow wāhine, avenged the death of Tutunui the whale (if you don’t quite know that one read Dr Aroha Yates PhD thesis on the Ātua Wāhine).
Then I remember my great-nanny Rangipikitia of whom I’m named after. She went into labour while gardening, delivered her own baby, cleaned the baby off, wrapped it up and then kept gardening.
And so I’m MINDBLOWN. This is what mana wahine is about.
Now if delivering your own baby and then continuing on with the gardening isn’t just straight badass then I don’t know what is.
But when it comes to me, and the mahi I’m doing as a writer and a Master’s student at Victoria I hesitate. Wahine toa? A wāhine with mana? Me? Just the thought of it and I shrink inside just a little bit. Actually maybe a lot.
There are two sides to the coin that sits inside of me. On one side I’m like “yeah duh, of course, I am.”
Yet on the other side, a little voice inside says to me “no you aren’t.”
So I have to ask myself. Why I am happy to acknowledge and celebrate the mana in other wāhine and yet in myself... I’m clearly not?
Maybe it has something to do with this whakatauki, Kāore te kumara e kōrero ana mo tōna ake reka.
On the other hand, I think about whakapapa and I remember that I’m a descendant of Hine-ahu-one and Hinetītama, meaning I’m also descendant of Papatūānuku and Tāne. They are a part of me.
Then I remember my great-nanny Rangipikitia, my nanny Herapia and great-great nanny Kanarahi (who my whānau today says was a dragon but I’m sure she was just total mana wahine). They are a part of me.
I imagine all of the ātua wāhine standing behind me, and my great-great nanny, great-nanny, nanny standing behind me and everyone else as well.
I remember now. Their mana, the mana of the collective and the mana of our whakapapa uplifts all and every single one of us.
So unless I’m prepared to say that all the ātua wāhine and wāhine that ever went before me - right back into the beginning of space and time - didn’t have mana then I better get straight with myself.
I am a woman with mana. I am MANA WAHINE.
Ko ahau, ko te mana wahine?
Anei mātou, e noho ana ki Matariki i Te Herenga Waka. He kohinga tauira e whakawhitiwhiti whakaaro ana mō Te Ao Marama e whakatata mai ana. Ko te wahanga kua riro mai ki au hei tuhi ko te Mana Wahine, rikarika katoa ana ahau i te noho tahi ki ngā tauira i tēnei tēpū.
He tauira ki tēnei taha, he tauira ki tērā taha.
Anipā katoa ana ahau, ka whiua ōku whakaaro mō te wahanga Mana Wahine ki te rōpū. Koia tōku āhua i mua i te tangata, he horokukū. I taua wā, kāore i pēnei rawa taku kōrero - engari ka hoki aku mahara, ka āhua pēnei te kawe...
“Kāore anō au kia āta whakaarohia… me pēnei rānei.. me pērā rānei… he kohinga whakaaro rānei ō ngā tino wahine i te ao mātauranga…?”
Nō konā ka hau mai te ētita, ka mea mai. “Ka tāea e koe te tuhi mōu ake. Me ngā wāhine hoki kei tōu ao.”
Ka rere ngā whakaaro. Mana wahine… he wahine whai mana… ko au? E mea ana koe ko au kei te whakawhiwhia ki tēnei mana nui?
Nā, ko te mana wahine e kōrerohia nei e au ko te mana ō ngā atua kei roto, kāore rānei i roto i ētahi wāhine. Wāhine whai mana.
Kei te mōhio ahau he tino whakahīhī tēnei, engari ka titiro ake au ki ngā wāhine Māori e noho tahi mai ana i tēnei rūma ka whakaaro au ki au anō, “Kāore e kore he wāhine whai mana katoa rātou.”
He wāhine e tuhituhi ana, he wāhine e tohatoha ana, he wāhine e kōrero ana i ō rātou kōrero.
Ka whakaaro au ki ngā pou mātauranga me ō rātou whakaaro ka whakaputaina e au; Ko Leonie Pihama, Linda Tuhiwai-Smith, Aroha Yates, Ngahuia Murphy, me rātou nō roto mai i a mātou o te whānau ō Te Herenga Waka; Rawinia Higgins, Maria Bargh, Ocean Mercier, Karena Kelly, Awanui Te Huia, te mea, te mea.
Ka tau anō mai te whakaaro ki a au, “ko rātou tonu he wāhine whai mana.” (?)Hikaka pai ana au (?)
Ēnei wāhine, he kuia, he māma, e mahi rangahau ana, kei ētahi poari whakamiharo hoki te ingoa, e whakaako ana, kei ō rātou hapū, ō rātou iwi me ō rātou hāpori e mahi ana… haere tonu, haere tonu te rārangi āke āke.
Ka huri taku aro ki ngā atua wāhine ka whakaaro ake, “wehi nā, kātahi te whakatīnanatanga o te wāhine whai mana.” Kāore i tua atu.
Ko Papatūānuku te whenua e takahi nei ngā tāngata KATOA, ko Hinetītama te tangata tuatahi o te ao! I te huringa ki Hine-nui-te-Pō ka patua e ia te tupua a Māui (Ahakoa ka kore te tangata e ora mo ake tonu atu, kikino hoki te kuia nei, haramai tētahi āhua)
Arā hoki a Hineteiwaiwa i ngaki i te mate o te tohorā a Tutunui (Mehemea kāore anō koe kia rongo i te kōrero nei, tirohia te tuhinga ā Tākuta Aroha Yates e pā ana ki ngā Atua Wāhine.)
Ka mutu, miharo katoa ana ahau. Koinei te ia o te mana wahine.
Ka maumahara ahau ki tōku kuia ko Rangipikitia hoki tōna ingoa. I a ia e keri ana i tōna māra i te wā e hapū ana ia, ka rongo ia i te pēpi e tata mai ana te whānau, nāna anō i whakawhānau me tana kotahi, ka horōia, ka tākaihia, ā, ka haere tonu me ana mahi keri māra.
He aha kē atu tētahi āhua whakamiharo i tua i te whānau pēpi ka hoki tika atu ki ngā mahi i tāua wā tonu.
Ka titiro ahau ki ahau anō e mahi ana hei kaituhi, e mahi ana i taku tohu paerua, ka horokukū ahau ka whakaaro noa. Wahine toa? He wahine whai mana? Ko au tēnā? Ka paku whakamā ahau i te whakaaro. Ū ā, ka tino whakamā.
Me kī, e rua ngā mata o te kapa. I tētahi taha he kaha rawa taku whakaae.
Engari i tērā atu taha, kei te rongo ahau i tētahi wairua e mea ana “e kao, ehara i a au.”
Nōreira me pātai au ki a au anō. He aha au e kaha whakanui ana i te mana o wāhine kē atu engari anō tōku ake mana?
Tērā pea he kaha nō te mana o te whakatauki nei, Kāore te kūmara e kōrero ana mō tōna ake reka.
Heoi, ka whakaarohia te whakapapa, āe he uri au nā Hine-ahu-one, a Hinetītama, i konā ka kīia hoki au he uri nā Papatūanuku, nā Tāne hoki. Kei roto katoa rātou i ahau.
Kātahi ahau ka hoki ki ōku tūpuna kuia a Rangipikitia, a Herapia, me a Kanarahi (e kīia nei e tōku whānau he tino taniwha engari e whakapae ana ahau he wahine rangatira ia.) Kei roto katoa rātou i ahau.
E whakapono ana au kei muri katoa ērā Atua wāhine i au, me ōku kuia, me rātou katoa.
Kua mārama i a au ināianei. Ko tō rātou mana, ko te mana tōpū, me te mana ō tō tātou whakapapa hei kawe i te marea, hei kawe i ia tāngata.
Nōreira, mehemea kāore au i te hia kōrero ko ngā atua wāhine katoa me ngā wāhine nō mua mai i ahau - hoki atu ana ki te korekore, ki te tīmatanga o te ao - kāore ō rātou mana, me mātua whakapono ahau ki ahau anō.
He wahine whai mana ahau. Ko au, ko te MANA WAHINE