NUKU founder on a mission to tell stories of 100 indigenous women around the world

By Te Rina Triponel

NUKU founder Qiane Matata-Sipu is on a mission to tell the stories of 100 indigenous women using interactive and creative platforms as a way to uplift other indigenous women across the world.

The NUKU movement is a non-profit social enterprise and tells the stories of indigenous female change-makers and leaders through audio podcasts, photography, videography, books, art and live events.

It stems away from the mainstream media and looks at women from a grassroots and authentic level, including names like Marama Davidson, Pualani Case, and Nikau Hindin.

“They are wāhine doing things differently. Stories of women who do not conform to a ‘mainstream’ image, but dare to carve their own unique portrait, showing us how the world can be shaped by our unique Indigenous voice.” Ms Matata-Sipu said in a statement.

NUKU was born after two “tragic” events, one where Ms Matata-Sipu lost her grandmother, and another where she wasn’t able to conceive after trying for 14 years.

“I was missing indigienous wisdom from my Nan while mourning the next generation, and out of that came this idea of what it means to be an indigenous woman, a wāhine Māori.” Ms Matata-Sipu told Tapatahi.

“I miraculously fell pregnant with a kotiro and decided I wanted to create a platform that my kotiro could see herself in.” she said. 

Each NUKU participant receives a photo shoot and is given a podcast platform to speak about their journeys, and so far, there have been 38.

“It includes people that others may not be familiar with and that’s the beauty of Nuku,” she says.

“It’s not just celebrating those that we know, it’s celebrating those who are hidden in our community.”

Ms Matata-Sipu says although this journey began last year, she’s had to hold back from producing content due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also committed her time to protect Ihumātao for seven months last year.

NUKU is set to create changes around the perceptions of indigenous women and the way indigenous women perceive themselves.

If you would like to nominate an indigenous woman for NUKU from your community, click here.