6 Feb 2014

History made at Te Tii marae

10:24 pm on 6 February 2014

Women have been allowed to speak at Waitangi's Te Tii marae for the first time with two women and a young girl taking part.

Annette Sykes.

Annette Sykes. Photo: MANA PARTY

In 1998, then Labour leader and future Prime Minister Helen Clark cried when Nga Puhi activist Titewhai Harawira objected to her being given permission to speak.

Mrs Harawira was on Wednesday given the opportunity to break the gender ban, but instead conferred the role to Annette Sykes, the co-president of son Hone Harawira's Mana Party.

Ms Sykes said the honour did not belong to just herself.

"I think I am part of a continuum of women like Titewhai, like Dame Mira Szaszy, who argued for human rights for Maori women to be extended beyond the kitchen, beyond inside the wharenui out on to the marae area."

Green Party co leader Metiria Turei also spoke on the paepae, after checking with kuia that they didn't mind her doing so.

Earlier, the mokopuna (grandchild) of Waitangi marae elder Te Hape Ashby spoke and asked that future generations not have the struggles she had seen elders go through.