Leonie Pihama

Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Māhanga

1962 -

Leonie Pihama was born at Waitara and educated at Waitara Primary School and Waitara High School. She moved to Auckland in 1985 and spent one year studying at Auckland University. She was a manager for a Step Training Programme and worked in that position for three years until 1988. In 1989 she went back to university and in 1990 graduated with a B.A. in Māori and Education. In 1989 she was joint Senior Scholar in Māori and received a Senior Prize in Education. From 1988-89 she worked at Auckland Polytech as a literacy support tutor. In 1991 she started an M.A. and from 1991-1992 lectured part-time at the College of Education. She is part of the Māori women’s film producers collective—Whanau-Moku Productions—which has been funded to do a project on Māori women’s imagery in the media. This group is operating politically for Māori feminism.

Biographical sources

  • Phone interview with Leonie Pihama August 1992.


  • "He Taonga: He Whakamaramatanga Mo Nga Akoranga Wahine Māori." Leonie Pihama and Tania Kaai-Oldman. 1985. No details.
  • "Women’s Part in Formal Speech on the Paepae: Viewpoints." Hurupaa: Undergrowth 4 (Mar. 1986): 37-41.
  • In this essay written for course work in a first year Social Anthropology paper, Pihama recounts a discussion with a Pakeha feminist friend who perceived the restrictions on women speaking on the paepae as another example of sexism and male domination. Pihama writes a rebuttal to this viewpoint and questions the mechanism of someone from one culture presuming to understand the subtleties of another culture.
  • Submission To The Women’s Advisory Committee On Education In Relation To The Education Of Māori Women. Leonie Pihama and Tania Kaai-Oldman. [Wellington, N.Z.: Women’s Advisory Committee on Education, 1990]. Rpt. as "He Taonga: He Whakamaramatanga Mo Nga Akoranga Wahine Māori." In Te Mahi Hurapa: Kei Hea Nga Kotiro, Wahine Māori Hoki E Tu Ana I Te Ao Matauranga/Māori Girls And Women In The Education System. Wellington, N.Z.: Ministry of Education, 1991. 6-29.
  • In this report presented to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs on 7 July 1988, Pihama and Ka’ai-Oldman draw from written material by Māori women on the subject of Māori women’s education from 1900 to the 1980s to demonstrate that the education system has been consistently inefficient in meeting the educational needs of Māori women and that ‘[c]hanges in the education system over the past 80 years have been merely cosmetic.’
  • "Te Whare Waananga: Kei Hea Nga Waahine Māori?" Te Pua 1.1 (Sept. 1992): 28-36.
  • Pihama discusses the historical barriers to Māori women’s participation in academic institutions particularly Auckland University. She reports on interviews with six Māori women within the 25-49 age range educated at schools between 1955-1980 and writes of the different barriers they experienced in their education. She also gives a brief overview of Māori women’s attendance at universities and their under-representation amongst student numbers.
  • "No, I Will Not Be a Post..." Te Pua 2.1 & 2 (1993): 35-37.
  • Pihama reflects on the proposed title of a paper she was asked to present which stated "I’ll be a post feminist in post patriarchy’, and argues that she would not be post Māori in a post colonial era, nor post feminist in post patriarchy because of the complexity of issues facing Māori women.
  • Editorial. Te Pua 3.2 (1994): 5-7.
  • Pihama discusses the various components of decolonisation facing Māori women.
  • "Redrawing The Maps: The Plural Society And Its Futures." Te Pua 3.2 (1994): 37-41.
  • Pihama addresses the problematic areas for Māori when dealing with maps that perpetuate a colonised world view and notes that in the Māori community whakapapa is the map ‘through which to explore a Māori landscape’. She goes on to discuss the ways in which Māori women are deconstructing ‘existing landscapes’ and re-drawing maps.. This paper was presented at the 1995 Sociology Conference: ‘Redrawing the Maps: The Plural Society and its Futures.’


  • Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 25.