Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says Judith Collins “does not have the cultural expertise” to challenge the role of wāhine at marae, after National's leader suggested it was sexist she was not allowed to speak at Waitangi.
“One thing that Judith Collins does not uphold is the status of wāhine Māori outside of just speaking from the taumata,” Davidson, of Ngāti Porou, Te Rarawa, and Ngāpuhi descent, said.
“She 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 according to tikanga, women had a different role.
“She [Collins] does not have the cultural expertise to understand the significance that the first voice and the only voice that can allow for pōwhiri to happen is the karanga.
“She undermines the meaning of the karanga by coming from a Pākehā woman’s perspective of where the status of Māori women is.”
Davidson said Māori women had already been leading the call for a review of tikanga “in a way that upholds the genesis of the mana of wāhine”.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the only woman allowed to speak at the Parliamentary pōwhiri at Waitangi - from the mahau, or porch, to account for her gender - said her perspective on Collins’ position was “guided” by the Waitangi National Trust.
“They’re making those decisions around how they’re running the powhiri for all those Parliamentarians,” Ardern said.
It had already been indicated Collins and other female leaders would have the opportunity to speak next year, she added.
She said she didn’t take the opportunity to speak for granted, and was committed to returning to Waitangi every year she was Prime Minister.
Yesterday, Collins was disappointed she wasn’t allowed to speak.
“It’s actually all about all women, wahine toa, who wish to be able to be able to have their say,” Collins said.
“And it’s really important – we’ve spent so much time talking about racism, let’s just think about, sometimes, every girl gets a chance too.”
National MP Shane Reti also expressed his disappointment that Collins wasn’t allowed to speak.
“We must not forget the mana and power of women who house life,” Reti said.
Ngāti Hine iwi leader Waihoroi Shortland apologised to Collins and said it would change next year.
The tikanga explained
Māori believe when visitors arrive at the marae, the God of War Tūmatauenga is present. So, protecting women was paramount, 1 NEWS political reporter Maiki Sherman explained.
It's 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.