The Mana Wahine team was up before dawn on Waitangi Day erecting our stall at the famous Treaty Grounds.
The stall gave us an opportunity to kōrero kanohi ki te kanohi with the wider community about the kaupapa of Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina’s Waitangi Tribunal claim.
The posters on our stall call for better pay and conditions but the claim is also about restoring the mana of wāhine Māori in the workplace.
“We want to spread understanding about treaty issues, how wāhine Māori have been disadvantaged by discrimination in the workplace and an education system that’s failed them,” says claimant Georgina Kerr.
The day was of special significance for longtime activists and PSA staff members Janice and Helen Panoho.
The Ngāpuhi sisters were taking the Mana Wahine claim back to the birthplace of Te Tiriti.
Janice says people in the North are struggling with unemployment and low paid jobs.
“Bringing the claim back here let’s them know they are not alone. We can make a difference.”
She says wāhine Māori often suffer from a lack of recognition in the workplace.
“We are not pūhaehae. We never go out there and say how sweet our work is. But too often we are sidelined and overlooked for promotion.”
PSA members visited the Mana Wahine stall to show their tautoko for the claim.
“I’m here to support our wāhine toa,” said Northland DHB delegate Auriole Cook.
“I’m always sticking up for our wāhine. Men get everything. Women have to fight for it,” said DHB member Maria Keefe.
Asked if he too supported the claim, Corrections member Kevin Harris said: “Why not? We should all be on the same level.”
Georgina Kerr was feeling the support for the kaupapa at Waitangi.
“There’s been a sincere response from everyone we’ve spoken to today. A really interesting cross-section of people from all walks of life, different ethnicities.”
The Waitangi Stall was the first event on our Mana Wahine Roadshow. Other events are being planned to take the claim around the motu.
Te Rūnanga will be making a submission to a judicial conference being held in April to plan for the Mana Wahine Kaupapa Inquiry.
Find out more about our claim at www.psa.org.nz/mana-wahine/
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