13 Jun 2014

Call for women to give Maori prayers

7:53 pm on 13 June 2014

A tohunga, or expert, in the art of Maori prayers wants women to become skilled in the tradition - but he suspects he is not fully supported by men he has mentored.

Prayers have always been acknowledged by tangata whenua, and tohunga are often called upon for healing, such as helping a dying person and their whanau.

Thirteen men graduated under the mentoring of Professor Pou Temara at the Institute of Excellence in the Maori language, Te Panekiretanga o te Reo - which is part of Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Prof Temara said he had told them he wanted them to train waahine Maori [Maori women].

So far he had received feedback from only one graduate, and that told him old traditions were hard for them to break, even though they are modern tohunga. He said they had been told to keep an open mind.

Prof Temara said traditionally both men and women had been tohunga.