Maori scholar says indigenous women have been ignored in colonizers' history

Indian Country Today reports:  “To the Maori, Horoirangi is the mother of all women, but she was forgotten in the history of the Maori after the colonization of New Zealand when the Maori were made to learn history from the Christian colonizers.

Horoirangi was so important to the Maori that a stone image of her was carved. However, she was eventually removed from the stone wall on which she had rested for centuries and placed on a shelf in a museum in New Zealand.

Aroha Yates-Smith, dean of the school for Maori and Pacific development at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, saw Horoirangi on the shelf and she knew the goddess wanted to go home, she said. She and other women convinced the museum to let them take Horoirangi where she belonged. The statue is now located near where it originated and is housed in a special case to protect the centuries-old image of the Maori goddess.

When Horoirangi was brought home in the 1980s, an earthquake occurred. Yates-Smith said it was the goddess showing her happiness at her return. 

Since that time, the role of women has changed within the culture to nearly the level it was before the Christians colonized the islands.

Yates-Smith said women were equal to men and that each had their own stories and purpose, but the colonizers reduced the role of women and the males took the power. The principal focus was placed on Maori men.   ”It nullified the female in Maori cosmology and assured that Maori women held the same position as European Christian women,” she said.”

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