Mothers in the House: Iriaka Rātana and Whetū Tirikātene-Sullivan: Text, Contexts, Resonances
In May, 1854, 37 men were sworn in for the first sitting of New Zealand’s House of Representatives. For the next 79 years, those deep voices were the only ones thought to be capable of public debate in the chamber. The political sphere, the context in which “maiden speeches” are given, was initially reserved for men, and the language was to be English. With the election of the first Māori members of Parliament in 1868, te reo came to be spoken, but only, of course, by men. Absent from the Pākehā parliament was the karanga, “the first cry of welcome on the marae”: the customary task of women.
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