A Maori World

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In the context of a Maori world view the role of women is different from that of women in European culture; women played a key role in the collective of the whanau, hapu and iwi. There was no hierarchy of the sexes. This is exemplified in the Maori language, where both the possessive and personal pronouns are gender neutral. Mana wahine is “a theoretical and methodological approach that explicitly examines the intersection of being Maori and female” (Simmonds 11). Mana wahine isn’t to be confused with Maori feminism, as this may confuse ideas with the Western concept of feminism. Key elements included in mana wahine are the concepts of whakapapa, wairua, and whanau (Hutchings 36). Many indigenous artists in Aotearoa New Zealand engage with mana wahine as inspiration, some with ties to decolonisation. These artists/designers use their work in reply to the dominant Pakeha culture and the history that is shared. Art/design that engages with mana wahine is often linked to decolonisation narratives – the process by which the changes brought about under colonialism are undone. For mana wahine, it is a reclamation of indigenous narratives, like Maori women’s narratives in cosmology. Audre Lorde wrote an essay for feminist postcolonial theory in which she muses that the women who “stand outside of this society’s definition of acceptable women” have to use the differences and become strong from them (Lorde 26). The title of the essay is “The Master’s tools will never
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