chapter  10
Korerotia Mo Nga Paake: Ma¯ori Women Educators Speak
Pages 23

Ma¯ori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Prior to Pa¯keha (European) settlement in the 1840s, Ma¯ori had their own whare wananga (houses of higher learning) where tuition was given to selected students.1 Within traditional knowledge, the role of the Kuia (older Ma¯ori woman) is regarded as “supreme authority”; her wisdom is respectfully sought by younger generations. As Professor Ranginui Walker summarizes, “Kuia are the keepers of knowledge, which the young need to succeed in the world. Kuia do not surrender their knowledge lightly, because its possession is central to their own status and mana. For this reason, Kuia transmitted their knowledge slowly to a carefully selected descendant.”2 Further, Ma¯ori oral tradition and tribal genealogies present important aspects about women of power and stature, their deeds and their roles as guardians of Ma¯ori knowledge. Ma¯ori women as repositories of knowledge specific to their own iwi (tribe) were shaped by their iwi history and genealogy within social structures and extended family practices. They assumed specific roles and responsibilities regarding knowledge and the training of the young.