This article has been inspired by doctoral research that focused on the pathway to leadership for wāhine Māori. For the purpose of the study, a mana wahine theoretical framework was created to analyse the lived experiences and character of several Māori women leaders. Known in the study as the Moko Wahine framework, it is embedded in Māori cultural values. A key aspect of the Moko Wahine framework is the potential to strengthen the Indigenous identity of women leaders who are of Māori descent.
This article draws from research with Māori women who have experiences of incarceration and key informants who have worked with Māori in the criminal justice system and/or in communities in Aotearoa New Zealand. Understanding was sought through an exploration of the intergenerational transfer of suffering and the associated normalisation of dysfunction and incarceration. Theories of historical trauma are utilised as a way to comprehend our history of incarceration; most invigorating about historical trauma theory is its ultimate aim of healing, however.