“It’s not easy opening your hearts up”

“It’s not easy opening your hearts up”

The opening hearings in the Waitangi Tribunal’s Mana Wahine Inquiry have heard powerful kōrero about the power, authority and status held by wāhine Māori in pre-colonial Aotearoa.

A series of tūāpapa hearings are setting the pou or foundations for the Inquiry, by exploring the tikanga and role of wāhine in Te Ao Māori. 

The Inquiry will go on to consider contemporary treaty breaches including the PSA’s Rūnanga’s claim against employment inequities that have left generations of wāhine Māori in low paid jobs with vulnerable working conditions.

The first hearings were held at Kerikeri in Te Tai Tokerau and Ngāruawahia in Waikato in February.


In often moving testimony, speakers presented evidence about the mana that wāhine held in pre-colonial society.

Ripeka Evans, one of the original claimants from the first Mana Wahine claim in 1993, spoke of how tāne and wāhine were essential to the collective whole.

She described the wāhine Māori who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the “founding mothers” and said colonial attitudes had led the Crown to prevent other wāhine from signing.

“The colonial culture that looked to men as leaders and chiefs – this caused the negation of wāhine Māori mana motuhake and rangatiratanga over their whenua, taonga, mātauranga, hearts, bodies, minds and beliefs.”


PSA Kuia Georgina Kerr attended the first hearing in Kerikeri. She is one of the claimants for Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina’s claim.

She says the kōrero highlighted the “systemic deprivation experienced by all of us”.

“It is clear that our rights have been marginalised for too long, that colonisation has had an impact on the minds, bodies and spirits of generations of wāhine.”

Whaea Georgina says many of the claimants were tearful and emotional as they spoke at the first hearing.

She plans to give evidence herself at one of the upcoming tūāpapa hearings this year.

“We still have to stand up there and that’s a hurtful process. It’s not easy opening your hearts up to share those stories.

“But the Crown is trying to make amends and the Waitangi Tribunal is the pathway to that journey.”

The Rūnanga’s claim will highlight treaty breaches such as the Crown’s failure to provide education that adequately prepares wāhine Māori for employment, or to eliminate bias and discrimination in the workplace.

The Mana Wahine Kaupapa Inquiry will hear a range of claims which allege prejudice to wāhine Māori as a result of historical and contemporary treaty breaches.

 Main photo caption: PSA Kuia and claimant Georgina Kerr and claim lawyer Tania Te Whenua






Also in this issue:

News in Brief

In our News in Brief, Pasefika representation is being implemented across our union, we announce a new Māori leadership role, and acknowledge the anniversary of the March 15 attacks.

Read More

President's Message

Kia ora e te whānau o Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi

Read More

Nevertheless we're Persisting!

The theme for our Women’s Network Conference in March was to have been ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’.

Read More

"I found it very easy"

A year into the global pandemic, the roll out of vaccinations is being welcomed by many workers on the frontline.

Read More

Saving our Libraries

The PSA has helped defeat a proposal to partially-privatise Wellington library and slash its budget.

Read More

Bridging the Digital Divide

Imagine a world where you can’t just jump online to apply for jobs, access services or communicate with friends or family.

Read More

Hard won recognition

An interim equal pay agreement for DHB administration and clerical workers is being greeted with a mixture of satisfaction and relief.

Read More

“We’ve come a long way”

Ten years on from the February 22 earthquake we reflect on the challenges faced by our members in Canterbury as they helped their community to rebuild.

Read More

Summer Snaps Competition

We’ve had a great response to our PSA Plus Holiday Homes Photo competition with some quality snaps making it hard to choose a winner.

Read More

Fight back in Myanmar

The military coup in Myanmar has deeply shaken hopes for democracy but public servants and unions are fighting back.

Read More

Plea for more sick leave

PSA home support members have told a parliamentary select committee they need more sick leave to keep themselves and their clients safe.

Read More

What do we want from health & disability review?

As we await the Government’s response to the health and disability sector review, we asked our PSA Community Public Services and DHB sector committees what they’re looking for.

Read More

"No fear factor" about disability

The formation of a network for disabled staff at Inland Revenue snowballed out of a desire to move beyond a “one click, one size fits all” mentality.

Read More

Leading the Way

It may say something about Brad Hedger’s commitment to the union that he agreed to speak to Working Life about his role as a PSA delegate just days before his wedding.

Read More

Climate Talk

New Zealand is stealing from the peoples of the Pacific. We are stealing their land, their homes, their water, and in doing so, we are jeopardising their future.

Read More

Challenging the Norm

Working mum Pip Bennett decided to research gender norms after becoming frustrated that everything was being left to her.

Read More

Men raising boys

A new book has inspired PSA member and stay-at home dad Aaron Packard to consider how we can help men to be more hands-on fathers

Read More

#My Mihi challenge

Learning a language is about starting out small and taking that first step.

Read More

Around & About

The Pride March in Auckland features among the events in our PSA picture page for this issue.

Read More

Big Brother Bosses - should you be worried?

Imagine you’re using a computer. Someone else installed software on it, and uses it to track your keystrokes, learn your password and access your personal email account.

Read More