Is feminism relevant to Māori women?

This year New Zealand celebrated 125 years since women won the right to vote.

The Hui's Mihingarangi Forbes asked a panel of experts whether this milestone is reflective of the achievements of Māori women in 2018.

Rhonda Tibble (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāi Tamanuhiri), Evelyn Tobin (Ngāti Manu, Ngāpuhi), Ngahiriwa Tai Tin (Ngāti Kahungnu, Ngāti Māmoe, Ngāi Tāmanuiri, Tūhoe ), and Peata Melbourne (Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) all said they didn't self-identify as feminists.

"It doesn't sit well with me that title, because I don't feel oppressed by my brothers - and my role with my brothers is complementary and added value. I need them to be the contrast of me," Ms Tibble told The Hui.

"It just doesn't fit," agreed Ms Tobin.

"The whole notion of Mana Māori stands on its own, and Mana Wahine is one expression of that. Because [feminist] is an 'ist' word it comes with a ready-made package interpreted by another culture. It doesn't work."

Ms Melbourne said te ao Māori is already gender-balanced.

"There's Rangi and Papa, there's not just Rangi. I think we're inclined to follow that naturally. I think it's been pointed out in a more Western point of view that [gender-based inequality] is going on."

Ms Tibble said she acknowledges the world is ruled by patriarchy, but that comes from a Western system.

"As Māori women we take a back seat to Pākehā women, Pākehā men, then Māori men, in the concept of our colonised minds. We have to remember whose mindset we are applying to the situation we're speaking to.

"In regards to the jobs with higher pay, for us as Māori women, until the whole structure considers a new system then we'll always get the same result."

Ms Tobin said that small business is one way women can choose their own pathway and reconstruct that structure.

She says the real issue lies in the fact that these decisions and conversations aren't in the hands of Māori women.

The panel was widely discussed online via social media channels, with viewers praising the nuanced perspectives shared.

"@TheHuiNZ morena @Mihi_Forbes Ka pai te kōrero i te ata nei. I'm always learning, Kia ora ngā wāhine i te tēpu. Feminism totally needs decolonisation, mana wāhine is so important," one user wrote.

"I'm hard out a feminist. But the discussion on Māori feminism on @TheHuiNZ I also totally agree with because the way feminism gets used and described makes it about supporting the patriarchy with a bit of pay equity," said another.

"Kātahi te pae kōrero ko ngā wāhine toa ki @TheHuiNZ i tēnei ata. Fantastic range of perspectives & experiences shared, mana wāhine te katoa. Ka mihi!" wrote a third. 

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