My organization, Mana Wāhine Kōrero (which translates as “Sovereign Women Speak”), was one of the two New Zealand groups that facilitated Kellie-Jay Keen’s visit to Auckland in March. We are a Māori (indigenous people of New Zealand) women’s organization and—as far as we know—the only gender-critical indigenous women’s group in the world. Our members are deeply concerned about the impact that gender ideology is having on our culture; on our wāhine (women); and on women’s rights more generally, as seen through the prism of Te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview).
Sadly, the fact that the Prime Minister of New Zealand (not unlike politicians in other countries) cannot define a woman was not the main takeaway for many journalists. Instead, much of the media bashed Plunket, accusing him not only of being “anti-trans,” but also of “diminishing indigenous cultures” for posing the question at all.
But my Māori women’s rights organization does not support the suggestion that Plunket deserves to be labelled as ignorant or racist. Rather, the attacks against him exemplify the tactic by which activists use bigotry accusations as a means to discourage any questioning of gender ideology by the general public.
There are no examples of anything resembling western ideas about “gender” in any of these cultural traditions.
Nor are there any carvings, waiata (songs), or mōteatea (poetic tales of sadness, farewell, or grieving, put to music) dedicated to such themes. Not one mōteatea references the sorrow of a child “born in the wrong body.” However, we might sing one now, for those sterilized children who’ve been convinced to alter their bodies in the name of gender ideology; and for our wāhine Māori, the most incarcerated female demographic in the world, now being imprisoned with violent men.
Or consider Tā moko—tattoos that are distinct between men and women. Only wāhine may wear a moko kauae (chin tattoo). No Tā moko for “gender diverse” individuals have ever been recorded. There are no carved whare (houses) or tukutuku panels (decorative panels depicting historical events relevant to the tribe) that suggest gender as being anything other than binary and immutable.
There are no stories of any great trans warrior or chief. Nothing exists to say that we believed in double mastectomies for teenage girls or orchiectomies for our young men. The majority of the Māori words that appear on the Gender Minorities Aotearoa glossary of trans words were, by the authors’ own admission, “developed” only recently.
Meanwhile, older words such as takatāpui (intimate companion of the same sex) have been redefined by gender ideologues channelling a colonial mentality, co-opting the Māori acceptance of homosexuality into something that promotes the lifelong medicalization and even surgical disfigurement of our tamariki (children).