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Centuries-old traditions amended by Govt decree?

9 May 2006

Centuries-old traditions amended by Government decree?

The Prime Minister's statement that it is Government policy that female MPs can sit wherever they like at powhiri is a ludicrous attempt to dictate the kawa of a marae and smacks of colonialism, Green Party Maori Affairs Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"The tikanga of powhiri is determined solely by the manawhenua of the hapu and marae concerned. The Government's policy has nothing to do with it," Mrs Turei says.

"Gender equity within marae protocol is a sensitive but current issue for iwi and hapu. Most Maori recognise that there are strongly held concerns about the role of women on marae.

"However, the recent vocal protests of National MPs Judith Collins and Anne Tolley, and now Helen Clark's assertion of 'Government policy', fail to take into account the fact that Maori women all over the country have been working through these issues with kuia and kaumatua. Because of the sensitive nature of this issue, it is incredibly unhelpful to have MPs kicking up a fuss and the Prime Minister making decrees like this.

"It is a shame that the National MPs and the Prime Minister have not made reference to the work that Maori women are doing on this issue. What could have been handled with tact to complement this work has instead turned into an ugly personal slanging match with no concern for the delicate issues at hand," Mrs Turei says.


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