Rape Crisis Philosophy and Te Ao Maori

I’m still working on my condensed version of the piece I wrote about the Turangi rape case, but hopefully I will get that up this weekend! In the meantime, in respect of the acknowledgement of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi last week, I thought I would write a brief piece about Rape Crisis philosophy and the influence of two pūrākau or stories on this philosophy. This is recounted from my Tauiwi understanding of these stories so am happy to hear if anyone has a better understanding.

Rape Crisis philosophy is based on a bi cultural and collectivist philosophy formed in the early 70s during the survivor movement. Here are two stories from Te Ao Maori that I have been told that discuss sexual violence, there are probably many others with different interpretations.

One pūrākau that discusses rape and incest is that of Tane and Hine Ahuone. Tane, who was an atua (a godlike entity) went in search of a female entity. No female form existed at this time except the female essence of mother earth. A female form was created from this essence by Tane and the other atua, when Tane took clay and fashioned it into the form of a woman. He breathed life into the form and invigorated it, creating Hine Ahuone. Tane and Hine Ahuone had children together, one of whom was called Hine Titama. Over time Tane and Hine Titama had a relationship together. One day, Hine Titama  asked about her father. When she discovered that Tane was her father this caused her great distress and she ran into the realms of the night. Tane followed her to bring her back and she replied to him through karanga, she told him to look after their children in life and she would look after them in death and she became Hine-nui-i-te-po, the guardian of death. This story highlights (in my understanding) that the relationship between Tane and Hine Titama was not right, and required action to be taken in order to return balance to that relationship. Hence why Tane was to be the kaimanaaki of their descendents in life and Hine the role of kaimanaaki in death.

One other aspect of Rape Crisis philosophy that pertains to one of these stories, is the fact that it does not distinguish between bodily rape and the rape that many women feel of their land and their culture. This acknowledges that in New Zealand colonisation forced the separation of Maori wahine from their land. Within Te Ao Maori women are considered as te whare tangata (the house of humanity) and therefore are treated with the same consideration as Papatūānuku, who is the creator of all life. This separation of Tangata whenua and the land, parallels the separation of Ranganui and Papatūānuku by their children in the Maori stories of the original sin, this separation was considered a rape, and act of violence as the parents were separated without their consent (Taonga, n.d.).

Hinetitama by Robyn Kahukiwa

Hinetitama, 1980, by Robyn Kahukiwa (1940– ).


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