NUKU wāhine wānanga held in Ihumātao over weekend

By Jessica Tyson

While thousands visited Ihumātao over the weekend, just up the road at Makaurau Marae around 150 wāhine united for a wānanga to reset, reflect and reconnect.

The NUKU Live wānanga on Saturday was an extension of Qiane Matata-Sipu's multimedia storytelling series NUKU, which launched earlier this year. 

As part of the project, Matata-Sipu has been working to interview 100 indigenous women.

She says the recent event was an extension of what takes place on her online platforms each week.  Coming out of Matariki, she says the wānanga served a purpose- to help the wāhine create new goals.

“So what does that look like for wāhine?  We are the drivers of change.  We drive change within our whānau, hapū, iwi, marae, our villages, our workplaces and so we need to ensure that we're taking time for ourselves.”

Teen Zakara Siafoleu, who attended the wānanga, says,"Many women struggle to find their purpose within things, like their meaning towards life sort work or where they want to go into the future so its good to connect with other women."

Christina Russell says, "What I liked most about this is getting the opportunity to come back, reconnect with my culture. Like they said in the past when colonisation happened, when we lost a bit of our culture, everyone a part of that culture lost a part of themselves."

Around 150 took part in the wānanga, where they learned rāranga, rongoā Māori and listened to kōrero from a range of inspirational women including Melissa Robinson-Cole, a full-time artist, designer and advocate for body positivity; lifestyle blogger Hana Tapiata who lives by indigenous philosophies and mātauranga Māori; curator Ema Tavola who is passionate about shifting representational politics and archiving the Pacific diaspora experience and Dr Huhana Hickey, a Crown Director and advocate for the disabled community.

Another major highlight for the wāhine was seeing new artwork on display created by Lissy Cole and Leilani Kake; a large crochet Tino Rangatatiratanga flag.

Coles says they were given funding by the Suffrage 125 fund to create three installations and the flag displayed at the wānanga was the first.

"The spirit moved us to create this. Seeing what's happening over here, what's happening here today, I say that it was meant to be.

"I'm so thankful to Lismond, Jan Dobson and Hiraina Marsden who designed this flag back in 1990 as a free open source for us all to claim."

Lissy Cole. Source: File

Other highlights include a workshop on the history of Cook Islands and Tahitian pareu and a hula workshop led by Charlene Tedrow and Lomina Araitia of Ura Tabu Pacific Dance.

Matata-Sipu also reaffirmed her stance in the Ihumātao land dispute.

"It's hard because obviously my heart ... my wairua and my hinengaro is still there but it's also amazing because we get to have such a positive energy of this space," she says.

"[The women] keep thanking me for helping them today but I don't think they realise how much they've helped me given what our whānau are currently facing here in Ihumātao."