He Pukenga Korero, Vol 10, No 2 (2011)

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Whakaotirangi: A Canoe Tradition

Diane Gordon-Burns, Rawiri Taonui

Abstract


Whakarāpopoto Kōrero
Ko Whakaotirangi tētahi o ngā tīpuna wahine ariki nō
Tainui waka. E ai ki te kōrero he wahine rangatira, ko
ia hoki tētahi o ngā tīpuna nui nāna nei te mahi tārai
o Tainui waka i hāpai, te kūmara i hari mai, ngā mahi
ahuwhenua hoki i hāpai. Nā ō Whakaotirangi pūkenga,
pūmanawa, tōna kaha, tōna āhua hoki i kīia ai he wahine
māia, he wahine ariki. E whā ngā whāinga o tēnei pepa.
Tuatahi, he kōrero mō Whakaotirangi i runga anō i
ngā kōrero o mua mōna kāore anō kia tāia katoa mai.
Tuarua, ka ārohi i tā te tāne Māori mahi, tā te wahine
Māori mahi hoki hei tuhituhi hei rokiroki i ngā tātai kōrero
mō ngā tīpuna wahine Māori. Tuatoru kia tātarihia te
mahi tuhituhi, te mahi kōrero hoki a ngā tāne— Pākehā
mai, Māori mai—i te taenga mai o tauiwi, nō muri mai
hoki. Tuawhā, ka matapakina te raweketanga atu i ngā
tātai kōrero hei whakaatu kē i tā te Pākehā tirohanga ki
muri, ki ngā mahi hoki a te tangata e hāngai ana ki te
wahine me tōna mana. Ka tautohea e tēnei pepa tēnei
whakaaro, i whakataha ake ngā tāne Pākehā, tāne Māori
hoki i te wahine hei kaikōrero i ngā pūrākau mō ō rātou
ake tīpuna wāhine, ā, i whakaiti iho hoki i te mahi me te
mana o ngā wāhine tapairu i ngā tātai kōrero.

Abstract
Whakaotirangi is one of the most important female
ancestors in the waka (canoe) traditions of Tainui. The
earliest accounts speak of her as a founding matriarch,
a leader, someone who contributed to building of the
Tainui canoe, a boon-bringer of kūmara (sweet potato)
and the initiator of horticultural interests. Whakaotirangi
character, qualities, strengths and achievements
bespeak a woman of considerable standing and tenacity.
The paper has four aims. The first is to tell the story
of Whakaotirangi’s life based on the earliest sources
which have only been partially published. The second
examines the role of Māori men and women in the
recording and preservation of oral traditions about Māori
female ancestors. Third is to analyse the work of Māori
and Pākehā men as scribes, informants, and writers
during the colonial and postcolonial periods. Finally, we discuss the way some oral traditions have changed to
reflect non-Māori European paradigms of history and
colonial-Victorian and postcolonial European views
of gender roles and the status of women. The paper
argues that Māori and Pākehā men in different ways
and to different degrees excluded Māori women from
telling the oral traditions of their ancestresses and have
diminished the role and status of those wāhine tapairu
(high standing women) in Māori oral traditions.

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