Connection to land through whakapapa is premised on mana inherited at birth from the atua. These fundamental principles have supported land claims in the Native Land Court since 1865 and were of importance to Ngāti Kahungunu women in the late 19th century. Yet, exactly how whakapapa and mana informed cases for wāhine Māori has been difficult to examine, due to the omnipresent patriarchal workings of the Native Land Court and its comprehension of customary principles.
This paper explores the cultural interplay between Indigenous women from one geographic locality being on and within the locality of the women of another locality—in this case, Whakatāne, Aotearoa. The authors consider identity, gender and place within the processes of transformation and decolonisation. They argue that women need to be involved in ways that restore their power as women and ensure their rightful place. The authors draw on the female ancestor Wairaka and her courage to argue that Indigenous women need to respond, change and adapt to the places in which they live.