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Maori Women and the Politics of Tradition: What Roles and Power Did, Do, and Should Maori Women Exercise?

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Title: Maori Women and the Politics of Tradition: What Roles and Power Did, Do, and Should Maori Women Exercise?
Authors: Ralston, Caroline
Keywords: Maori
women
woman
LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.
Issue Date: 1993
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Ralston, C. 1993. Maori Women and the Politics of Tradition: What Roles and Power Did, Do, and Should Maori Women Exercise? The Contemporary Pacific 5 (1): 23-44.
Abstract: The central problem investigated here is the conflict between the predominant
role that Maori women are playing in the contemporary Maori movement and
the statements made by certain Maori and Pakeha scholars and Maori leaders
that Maori women did not play leading roles in precontact times and should not
today. The effect of these statements is compounded by the widespread Maori
belief that women have an inimical influence in relation to matters of sacred significance.
The meanings and usage of the term tradition are explored, and a brief
view of typical attitudes confronted by Maori women activists today is presented.
The significant, participatory activities of Maori women in community life in the
early contact period are established using Pakeha evidence and, more briefly,
mythological evidence is given to reveal similar roles for women in earlier periods.
The impact on women's lives of precontact ideas about women's potent spiritual
powers is also explored. Focus then turns to the changes that have occurred
over the past one hundred fifty years in certain aspects of Maori life, in particular
Maori definitions of Maoriness, the structures of Maori meetinghouses, and the
protocols of various Maori gatherings. These changes have enhanced, not undermined,
the legitimacy of the matters reviewed. In conclusion it is suggested that
the flexibility and legitimacy accorded certain key features of Maori life in the
years since contact could be extended to the roles that many contemporary Maori
women have assumed.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/12883
ISSN: 1043-898X
Appears in Collections:TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1993 - Volume 5, Number 1



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