The mana of 19th cen­tury wa¯ hine

Havelock North Village Press - - News -

He Reo Wahine by Dr Lachy Paterson and Dr An­gela Wan­halla Re­viewed by Ali­cia Ta­mainu, Hast­ings Dis­trict Li­braries

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 are re­searchers who fo­cus largely on colo­nial New Zealand and the so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural as­pects of the peo­ple present at that time (19th cen­tury).

He Reo Wahine isa com­pen­dium of let­ters, court doc­u­ments and notes that al­low us a glimpse into some of the real is­sues that plagued Aotearoa such as the raids of Te Rau­paraha to the in­va­sion of Par­i­haka.

We are able to delve into his­tory it­self and see from a first­per­son 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 the de­scen­dants of those slain.

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 them.

It is ap­par­ent through­out the book that these women were not so re­luc­tant to stand proud and ar­tic­u­late their thoughts where land or court was con­cerned. Some of these women were suc­cess­ful in re-gain­ing their lands and oth­ers, not so.

The sto­ries that make up the book are wo­ven to­gether del­i­cately so as to al­low these women’s voices to come through clearly.

The au­thors have been care­ful not to as­sert their own per­spec­tives as they strip back or re­flect on dif­fer­ent texts, leav­ing room for fur­ther dis­cus­sion. While some pieces are wholly writ­ten in Ma¯ ori and some are not, all have the power to stir emo­tions, some an­gry and some down­right sad.

For a young Ma¯ ori woman, this book can prove to be man­aen­hanc­ing in a way that de­feats the long-stand­ing as­sump­tion that Ma¯ ori women were un­e­d­u­cated and not re­spected.

A pow­er­ful and heart-grip­ping book that af­firms the mana of the wa¯ hine in the 19th cen­tury and pre­serves the mauri or essence of their words — he reo wa¯ hine.

On Oc­to­ber 20 at 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 Hawke’s Bay Arts Fes­ti­val.

The Shriek­ing Sis­ter­hood: women’s voices from the past, chaired by Tryphena Crack­nell, will dis­cuss the di­verse ways in which New Zealand women ar­gued for rights. We’ll see you there!

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