Place of women in powhiri and parliament

Student Tyler Dixon is used to being asked about women’s place on the marae.

Her pakeha friends ask if the traditional role of women in the powhiri is sexist.

“I just try to explain that females have their own type of mana. Traditionally Maori really revered their women, and looked after their women, and I guess it’s about maintaining that kind of whakaaro.”

That view is a stark contrast to some older women.

Parliament could change its protocol to allow women to speak in Maori welcome ceremonies after complaints from some female MPs who felt the current tikanga belittled their status.

The Speaker of the House, David Carter, is in the process of reviewing parliamentary protocol after two senior female Labour MPs raised the red flag last year in July.

During a powhiri for Youth Parliament, Labour MPs Maryan Street and Annette King were made to move from the front row of seats or paepae, which is the orators bench usually reserved for men.

Street believes it sent the wrong message to the youth MPs, and says it was time for Parliament to develop its own kawa [protocol].

“This isn’t how I want young people to see Parliament. I want them to see Parliament as a place of equals, and this kawa doesn’t reflect that”.

Suggestions by MPs include making provisions for women to speak in welcome ceremonies, and allowing high ranking female MPs to sit in the front seats or paepae. Continue reading.

Source: The Wireless

Image: RNZ

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