Murphy, Dr Ngahuia
An Examination of Stories, Ceremonies and Practices Regarding Menstruation in the Pre-Colonial Maori World. Based on a Masters Thesis.
Te Awa Atua is a ground-breaking study of menstruation in pre-colonial Māori society. Many early ethnographic accounts of menstrual rites were distorted beyond recognition by the colonial lense of their authors, yet their misinterpretations continue to be accepted as authoritative.
This book is a challenge to that authority. By examining stories about menstruation located in Māori cosmologies, tribal histories, oral literatures, ceremonies and rites, Ngāhuia Murphy argues that menstruation was seen as a medium of whakapapa (genealogy) that connected Māori women to their pantheon of atua (deities). Ancient rites, recorded in tribal song and chants reveal that menstrual blood was used for psychic and spiritual protection. These examples unveil striking Indigenous constructs of womanhood that radically challenge notions of female inferiority and menstrual pollution.