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Women’s leadership

Tauira Takurua explains the role women played in keeping the home fires burning whilst men were overseas fighting.


Between the years of 1939 and 1945, the people strongly supported the Second World War effort. The young warriors of every iwi, the leaders of their hapū, left for the war.

Because of this, the gaps at home were filled by women. From agriculture to the most fundamental military activities, women filled roles that would ensure the survival of whānau, hapū, and the people. At that time, people saw the strength of the women as caring and looking for others; people saw the strength of women as protectors of the people.

The local women at that time in the war would go out and get food, seafood, hanging it to dry, placing it in foodstores. That’s why this song of ours celebrates the effort of the brave women – it was they who kept the home fires burning throughout the whole country. When the soldiers left to go away, there were only the elderly left behind. The elders stayed here and kept the fires burning, so the hapū and the whānau would survive.