Mana wahine and atua wāhine
The characteristics of atua wāhine provide the female elements of mana wahine for Māori women. In expressing mana wahine, Māori women draw on the attributes and narratives of the atua wāhine. The atua wāhine narratives went through a period of marginalisation after the arrival of the early settlers. During this time their stories and characteristics were omitted from written literature, and where literature did exist, new meanings were impressed upon them. In their expression of mana wahine today, Māori women are limited to the narratives of the atua wāhine that have been made available to them and the characteristics described in those accounts. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of the atua wāhine. A modern-day deconstruction and reconstruction of their stories has taken place, particularly amongst Māori women. From this an opportunity has arisen to re-present the narratives of the atua wāhine and reveal the full depths of their attributes and characteristics, an extension to uncover a deeper range of the female elements of mana wahine and their expression through Māori women. The methodologies drawn upon for this research are Kaupapa Māori and Mana Wahine. A review of contemporary literature explores the atua wāhine and then examines mana wahine as a framework for Māori female expression. Following the literature review, a series of interviews with Māori women are analysed to contextualise the wāhine. Then the Mana Wahine: Characteristics of Atua Wāhine framework is unveiled. It is a framework for the conscientisation of Māori women and Māori men to the full range of female elements as are illustrated in the atua wāhine narratives.