National | Arts

Exhibition honours seven influential Tainui wāhine

Seven of the most influential female leaders of Tainui descent are being honoured in an exhibition called He Toa! He Wahine!

The showcase commemorates the 160th anniversary of the King Movement, 125 years of Women's Suffrage and the Māori new year.

Curator Ataahua Papa says that in the past men have been at the forefront of leading change, but the public has forgotten the achievements of women during that time.

“They also championed change for us, and we are here because of their efforts," she says.

Papa says the work done by Te Puea Herangi is well-known across the country.

“Her labours to established Tūrangawaewae Marae and the ancestral meeting houses and the monarch resident home of Tūrongo.

“She established farms, took care of many children and opposed the conscription of Waikato men to fight in the First World War.”

Piupiu Te Wherowhero is the younger cousin of Te Puea.  Her father Te Wherowhero was the second son of Kiingi Tawhiao.

“She wasn't as well-known but she worked tirelessly to take care for the people, build homes and marae- a spiritual guide for the people from the canoe of Tainui.”

Papa says Dame Te Atairangi Kaahui is their greatest champion.

“She reigned for 40 years, bringing together all people from around the country under the banner of the King Movement.”

Nanaia Mahuta is acknowledged for her work in politics.

“She is a member of the wider (Te Wherowhero) royal family. Her grandmother was Piupiu Te Wherowhero who was the mother of Te Kotahi (Robert) Mahuta.”

Rukumoana (Schaafhausen), Parekawhia (McLean) and Donna (Flavell) sit at the helm of three of the tribe's management offices.

“They have the responsibility of managing the affairs of the tribe with innovative ideas to bring about greater success and benefits for their beneficiaries.”

The exhibition remains open at Ngā Tohu o Uenuku arts centre in Mangere until Saturday.