This website is a place to learn and share information about traditional Māori attitudes, beliefs, stories, ceremonies and practices regarding menstruation. It is also a place to talk about how whānau today are reclaiming the mana and tapu of menstruation and why this is important for us as a people.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?  For our tīpuna waiwhero was an ancient river carrying ancestors and descendents linking us back to our creation stories. Menstruation, according to our tīpuna, came from our pantheon of atua, male and female, and so it was regarded as a river of power and used across a spectrum of rites and ceremonies. Our ancient names for menstruation reveal these cosmological origins and reflect traditional beliefs about the mana and tapu of women and the blood.

Waiwhero was also regarded as a powerful symbol of whakapapa, assuring the continuation of whanau and hapu. As such when it arrived for the first time it was greet with karakia, ceremony, hākari and presentation of taonga. Girls and boys learned about waiwhero (and sexual development more generally) from their parents, aunties, uncles and the old people who all talked about it openly and without shame on the marae. Tikanga around Waiwhero bonded the genders and the generations.

It is important to reclaim these korero and tikanga because menstruation has come to be seen as ‘paru’. Even more disturbing is that some of us have been taught that this is a traditional Māori veiw. Nothing could be further from the truth. Korero about waiwhero being something ‘dirty’ and ‘shameful’ comes from the redefinition and representation of our sacred stories and tikanga by Victorian male colonial ethnographers and historians whose recordings have been reproduced for over a century. They have created a textual legacy of female inferiority that is challenged and contradicted by an examination of our own karakia, moteatea tribal and navigational stories. Because of their censorship and distortions,  we stammer over language about our reproductive bodies where we once sang! For many Maori women and girls there are ‘no words for the blood down there’. This is the consequence of the internalisation of colonial violence.

It is time to restore the mana and tapu of menstrual blood as an ancient medium of power that connects us to our atua.