What is Mana Motuhake? – Aotea Store

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What is Mana Motuhake?

As a verb, the word motuhake means to separate, to set aside, to position independently, or to stand-alone. There is difficulty translating the word mana but it can be read to mean spiritual power, respect, and autonomy. Ihi is another concept in the Māori language which we have seen in action throughout Māori mythology. While ihi is energy, mana is power. Consistently acting in line with one’s values may develop mana. Mana motuhake therefore simply means self-determination. Mana motuhake is only one kind of mana. 

The phrase mana motuhake originated from the Māori loss of land to the Crown during extensive European settlement in the 19th century and the subsequent efforts to restore what had been lost. In the 1830-1840s, some Maori tribes realised that a potential foreign take-over was in the wind and developed mana motuhake as a principle to exercise authority over their own affairs. It arises in discussion of the true meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi). One of the reasons for the treaty was to give Queen Victoria, through her governor, the authority to exercise control over lawless Pākehā and another was to establish settlement of Europeans in New Zealand. It was never to deprive Māori of their economic, social and cultural rights as tangata whenua.

Brief history of the Mana Motuhake political party

There was a New Zealand political party called Mana Motuhake registered from 1980 to 2005. The ideology of the party was Māori rights, indigenous rights and social democracy. It was formed by a Labour MP who had served as Minister for Māori Affairs. He had grown dissatisfied with Labour party policy and eventually decided Māori needed an independent voice. In 1991 the Mana Motuhake political party joined the Alliance with the New Labour Party, the Green Party and the Democratic Party. Because of concern this would damage the party’s independent voice for Māori interests, the new Mana Māori Party was formed.

Mana Motuhake vs Tino Rangatiratanga 

Tino Rangatiratanga is usually defined as “absolute sovereignty.” This refers to control over one’s lands and people’s affairs. Mana motuhake is “self determination,” which means the ability to decide for oneself one’s own path in life through self-reliance.

The future of Mana motuhake and its importance 

Mana motuhake has been a politically charged term, but it doesn’t have to be. It can mean self-respect earned by one’s own actions. The idea of separateness can be similar to freedom - freedom to think, act and do in ways that grow the individual, rather than chaining the individual to the herd or to a state that turns its back on a group of people.

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