Voices of NZ wa¯ hine
He Reo Wahine, by Dr Lachy Paterson and Dr Angela Wanhalla, explores the issues that surrounded and directed Ma¯ ori women’s lives during the 19th century.
The authors focus largely on colonial New Zealand and the social, political and cultural aspects of the people.
He Reo Wahine is a compendium of letters, court documents and notes, a glimpse into some of the real issues that plagued Aotearoa, such as the raids of Te Rauparaha to the invasion of Parihaka. We can delve into history itself and see from a first-person view the impact war had on these women and their families.
One wa¯ hine talks about the slaying of people in Nga¯ i Tahu by Nga¯ ti Toa Rangatira leader and composer of the world-famous haka Ka Mate ,Te Rauparaha. The loss suffered by the people of Nga¯ i Tahu is still remembered by their descendants.
Through the wa¯ hine Ma¯ ori voices inked into these pages, we begin to comprehend the deep connection these women felt about the land and new laws that prevented many Ma¯ ori from keeping it. These women were not so reluctant to stand proud and articulate their thoughts where land or court was concerned. Some were successful in re-gaining their land.
The stories are woven together delicately to allow these women’s voices to come through clearly. The authors have been careful not to assert their own perspectives as they reflect on different texts, leaving room for further discussion. While some pieces are wholly written in Ma¯ ori, all have the power to stir emotions.
For a young Ma¯ ori woman, this book can be mana enhancing in a way that defeats the long-standing assumption that Ma¯ ori women were uneducated and not respected — a powerful and heartgripping book that affirms the mana of wa¯ hine in the 19th century and preserving the mauri or essence of their words — he reo wa¯ hine.
On Saturday 20 October, 3pm at the MTG Napier, Patterson and Wanhalla join Barbara Brookes (A History of New Zealand Women) in a Readers and Writers session of the Harcourts Hawkes Bay Arts Festival. The Shrieking Sisterhood: women’s voices from the past, chaired by Tryphena Cracknell, will discuss the diverse ways New Zealand women argued for rights.
■ For more information visit www.hastingslibraries.co.nz or phone 8715000.