Growing kōhine Māori leaders

Te Puni Kōkiri and Manatū Wāhine are working together to develop wāhine leadership programmes for kōtiro, kōhine, wāhine and kuia.

Published: Tuesday, 29 August 2023 | Rātū, 29 Hereturikōkā, 2023

Wāhine Māori are key to achieving wellbeing within their whānau as nurturer, leader, and provider. They are also often the ones to lead their whānau and community in caring for Māori culture, each other in their community, and for the environment.

Forty-four percent of Māori women said they had helped someone outside their household with cooking, cleaning, gardening, and repairs, or other housework. Similar proportions had helped out at schools, churches, sports clubs, or other community groups and organisations, or looked after children who lived in another household, according to Te Kupenga 2018, research conducted by Stats NZ.

Through the Whānau Resilience Fund, the Te Puni Kōkiri team in Tāmaki Makaurau is supporting a kōhine Māori programme called Kōhine Tuitui. The programme has been designed to support kōhine Māori to fulfil their potential after many had their secondary schooling prematurely curtailed as a result of COVID-19.

We know that rangatahi seek role models and positive experiences to support them to be confident leaders. Co-designed initiatives are resulting in kōhine Māori finding their own solutions in achieving their aspirations.

Led by Kootuitui ki Papakura, Kōhine Tuitui provides leadership pathways for kōhine Māori. Learnings and insights are gathered through wānanga where education, career and leadership aspirations are explored. The programme will support kōhine Māori to follow through on those aspirations with an action plan including mentoring, peer support, educational and leadership experiences.

“There are disparities across education, employment and health outcomes for rangatahi Māori compared to non-Māori, and now research has identified that these have deepened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Martin Mariassouce Regional Director Tāmaki Makaurau, Te Puni Kōkiri.

Another capability programme, operated in Nelson, focuses on enabling kōhine Māori to provide for the whānau through a He Kai Kei Aku Ringa approach by teaching them how to hunt, a role traditionally conducted by tāne.

A group of Nelson-based kōhine Māori attended a series of wānanga, where they forged new relationships, learned gun management, and hunting skills to enable them to support their whānau by providing kai. As well as new relationships, kōhine Māori were empowered through the learning of new skills and tikanga, which hadn’t previously been available to them.

These programmes have been designed to empower kōhine Māori, open up pathways and provide leadership opportunities. Having a belief in oneself and gaining a deeper knowledge of mātauranga Māori and tikanga is enabling kōhine Māori to develop their confidence, capability and connectedness. This in turn is helping them make more informed choices about the quality of life they want to lead.

These collaborations between Te Puni Kōkiri, Manatū Wāhine and kōhine Māori aim to ultimately grow strong wāhine leaders, and contribute to thriving whānau, communities, hapū, iwi, and all of Aotearoa New Zealand.