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Explainer: Tikanga on female visitors to marae following Judith Collins' sexism claim

Māori leaders at Waitangi have signalled they’ll give women more speaking rights on the marae next year after National leader Judith Collins’ sexism claims, but what is the tikanga behind the arrangement?

1 NEWS’ Maiki Sherman and Te Karere’s Scotty Morrison explained the tikanga around visitors to marae.

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It follows criticism from Judith Collins, but Māori leaders say she lacks understanding of Māori protocol and the issue was being discussed long before the National leader's comments. Source: 1 NEWS

Māori believe when visitors arrive at the marae, the God of War Tūmatauenga is present, with protecting women paramount, 1 NEWS political reporter Maiki Sherman explained. 

This is the reason men are in front of women and hold speaking rights.

Te Karere presenter Scotty Morrison said it was like when people answered the door and felt a bit apprehensive when they didn't know who was there. 

"The same thing happens here on the marae, but on a much bigger scale," he said.

"It's mainly around men being more dispensable because women are far more important to a tribe than men. Women have the ability to give birth."

While changes may come to marae at Waitangi, all marae are unique and have their own tikanga. 

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While Jacinda Ardern was allowed to speak, the opposition leader was not. Source: 1 NEWS

The discussion around tikanga comes after Collins suggested yesterday that her not being allowed to speak at the marae in Waitangi was sexist. 

“It is absolutely unacceptable that people are treated differently because of their gender,” Collins said today. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was allowed to speak.

Ngāti Hine iwi leader Waihoroi Shortland apologised to Collins and said it would change next year.

Shortland said Collins’ claim of sexism reflected her lack of understanding of tikanga. 

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson echoed his view.

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The Greens co-leader says wāhine Māori should decide for themselves what roles they should play, not a Pākehā woman. Source: 1 NEWS

“She [Collins] does not have the cultural expertise to be able to acknowledge that wāhine Māori need to lead the discussion about what our roles are and where we put our voices,” Davidson said.

Mere Mangu, chairperson of Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi-o-Ngāpuhi, challenged the issue and spoke at Waitangi last year.

“Not everyone's going to agree with my stance,” she said. 

“However, the conversation needs to be had and tikanga needs to be accommodating of everyone.”