Tu Kaha: Nga Mana Wahine Exploring the Role of Mana Wahine in the Development of Te Whare Rokiroki Maori Women's Refuge
Whanau are the building blocks of society and their well-being is critical to strong,vibrant and connected communities. When a women or child is beaten, abused, or worse killed as a result of family violence, individuals are adversely affected, whanau suffer and wider communities in New Zealand are impoverished. From the margins of New Zealand society, Maori women are leading development campaigns that seek to end violence against women and children, uphold their human rights and freedoms and challenge oppressive colonial ideologies which are hegemonic and masculinist. Their work is part of local, national and global agendas to end violence and bring about long-term, positive change. They are a part of the decolonisation agenda within which many Maori actively campaign. This thesis brings together theory and practice to explore such a campaign. The overall goal is to explore the role of Mana Wahine in the development of Te Whare Rokiroki Maori Women's Refuge. Mana Wahine is a theory and ideological framework which is centred on Maori world views and ways of knowing. It is also a tool for analysing situations and events and has been adopted to create space for Maori women to tell their stories and develop ideas. This thesis seeks to achieve the following aims: explore the meaning of Maori development in a Refuge environment; investigate the expression of Mana Wahine by Maori women Refuge advocates; and identify the extent to which Mana Wahine has influenced decolonisation. The research framework which informs the overall approach comprises a: Kaupapa Maori epistemology, Mana Wahine and Qualitative methodologies and interviews. This thesis joins the Refuge in its pursuit for Tino Rangatiratanga (sovereignty) and contributes to the growing body of Mana Wahine knowledge. The conclusions of this thesis assert development within the Refuge means women and children leading lives free from violence and abuse. A Mana Wahine perspective is critical to the development of the Refuge and achieving positive, long-term change. At a fundamental level, the means through which development and change is achieved is Maori culture, Tikanga and Te Reo. The women of Te Whare Rokiroki are unsung heroines whose stories of commitment, sacrifice, learning, determination, anger, resistance and generosity has to be told.