Call to establish a female equivalent to Te Mata Punenga

By Taroi Black

A group of men, who are knowledgeable in traditional Māori and spiritual practices, is about to embark on a journey with women for the very first time. Dr. Pou Temara believes this will give many Māori women benefits in terms of retaining our culture.

The knowledge of conducting traditional rituals would come with experience or selection. Te Mata Punenga is a group of 12 men who are experts in Māori knowledge and traditions. Now they are considering sharing their knowledge with women.

Te Mata Punenga member Pou Temara says, “They will learn how to recite prayer. Perhaps matters pertaining to women such as healing of the womb, child related sicknesses, the roles of men and women.”

A traditional Māori healer from the Bay of Plenty, Rita Tupe believes this is an opportunity that will challenge and give Māori women a voice in traditional and spiritual practices.

Rita Tupe from Ngāi Tuhoe says, “Someone like Rose Pere, a well-known historian, would be suitable for this. She knows quite a lot. But we mustn't shut the doors on our men. Both genders must work alongside each other.”

Dr. Temara says the group will be hand-picked and will adopt the name Te Mata Pūihoiho. However, this idea doesn't sit well with all.

Rhonda Tibble from Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau a Apanui says, “Is it right for males to teach how women should be? One of the things to consider is that our elder women exponents in customs should lead this.”

Although Te Mata Punenga understands some differences about this idea, they are certain this will help retain our culture in the future.