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July 24, 2017 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira |
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Te Ara Tauira

The Māori word “takatāpui” means “intimate companion of the same sex.” The word made its first recorded appearance in the 1832 edition of Herbert Williams’ Dictionary of the Māori Language. Resources trace some whakapapa of the word back to Te Arawa and the Wairarapa, for fluid gender and sexuality existed in Te Ao Māori long before Pākehā arrived in Aotearoa. Some iwi did not have words for the idea, but nevertheless, takatāpui has always been.

Rainbow flag, pride parade, these are the things we think of when we hear about queerness. While some of the most revolutionary fights within the gay and trans rights movements are owed to people of colour, most of what we know about queerness is not Māori. Takatāpui is a chance to reclaim mātauranga Māori and whakapapa Māori within those identities.

This year, Elizabeth Kerekere, Tīwhanawhana Trust, and RainbowYOUTH released a resource: “Growing Up Takatāpui: Whānau Journeys”. It is a comprehensive resource (available at for takatāpui and their Māori whānau. The resource includes testimony from whānau, and provides Māori terms, including for trans women (whakawāhine) and trans men (tangata ira tāne).

The resource is part of a growing conversation around our whānau takatāpui. For Māori, whakapapa and whānau are such a big part of who we are. What is it to be queer and to be Māori? Connected to these questions is the work of collectives such as FAFSWAG. Based in Tāmaki, FAFSWAG is all about queer Pacific culture in Aotearoa. For again, if we look out to our Pasifika whanaunga, gender and sexual fluidity flow through the islands. Loud, proud, and Polynesian, FAFSWAG, alongside groups such as the Tīwhanawhana Trust, are some of the people putting in the mahi to create space for takatāpui. Ka rawe hoki!

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