Religion, Gender and Rank in Maori Society: A Study of Ritual and Social Practice in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Documentary Sources.
Thesis DisciplineMaori Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The main goal of this work is to understand the role that tapu (the sacred) had in ordering Maori gender relations, and set this role into a wider social context, through an investigation of early documentary sources. Particular attention is given to the distinctions Maori made between rangatira (chiefly persons), tutua (the low-born) and taurekareka (slaves). Early nineteenth-century descriptions of funerary rites and rites of welcome are analysed to shed light on Maori constructions of gender and their relation to religion, rank and ritual. Maori ideas about sexual reproduction, abortions and the menses are also investigated. A selection of sources describing the tapu prohibitions and ceremonial surrounding childbirth and children are also discussed. Various religious roles in Maori society are surveyed, giving particular attention to women's religious and ritual activities, and their interpretation. Western representations of Maori slaves and women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are also investigated.