Superimposed text - Revolutionary.


These bold women have been fearless, unafraid to fight for what they believe in.

Whaia Te Rangi McClutchie

Ngāti Porou

“I speak for the benefit of the people” was the catchphrase of Whaea Whaia Te Rangi McClutchie and the reason she would stand and deliver whaikōrero on the paepae – traditionally a male domain. Seen as a revolutionary act by some, McClutchie asserted her mana and right to speak – she also held the respect and consent of her iwi to do so.

Born Whaia Te Rangi Tūhaka in 1931, McClutchie spent her childhood at Pakairomiromi in Rangitukia and was brought up by her grandparents. Later she moved to Ruatōria to live with her mother and was educated at Manutahi School. Steeped deeply in her Ngāti Porou traditions and history, she became a leader of her people.

McClutchie took her mana from the myriad of tīpuna wāhine who had the prestige and whakapapa enough to have iwi named after them. She supported and attended many hui around the country, including Māori Women’s Welfare League conferences, the National Māori Congress, Kingītanga and Koroneihana hui, as well as Waitangi Day Commemorations. When she felt it necessary she would speak up to ensure her voice was heard, for the benefit of the people. She certainly had naysayers from outside of her Hinetāpora hapū, but she stood up for her right to a voice.

In this excerpt, from a 1978 radio interview, McClutchie explains (in te reo Māori) to broadcaster Purewa Biddle, about her right to stand and speak on the marae ātea as God-given, and complimentary to supporting men on the paepae.

Find out more:

Listen to the whole interview.

Watch a Waka Huia profile on Whaia McClutchie. 

Read an article by Hine Parata-Walker – Whaikōrero: A woman’s place too?

Collection reference 40581
Year 1978
Credits Interviewer: Purewa Biddle, Te Reo o te Pipiwharauroa, RNZ National

Sharon Hawke

Ngāti Whātua

Sharon Hawke recalls it was as a schoolgirl on the 1975 hīkoi from Te Hapua to Parliament in Whanganui-a-Tara, that she became "politicised as a Māori". Then, in 1977 her father, Joe Hawke, led the reoccupation of ancestral land at Takaparawhau (Bastion Point). Hawke was part of the peaceful protest which lasted for 506 days, until the forced eviction of the protestors by 600 police and army, and she was one of the 222 people arrested on day 507.

Since then Hawke has worked tirelessly to support Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei and currently is a member of the Trust Board. She also works in the film industry and reflected to Dale Husband in an E-Tangata interview on the 40th anniversary of the eviction:

"I’m hoping that, through my work in film and television, I can play a part in our communities understanding our past and each other. Our stories need to be told and shared – and not blocked, as happened, for some time, to Merata Mita’s Bastion Point: Day 507. That was the story of our eviction in 1978. We all need to keep hearing pivotal stories like that. Amnesia does too much damage".

In this item from Te Karere, broadcast after the passing of the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Settlement Act in 2012, Sharon Hawke talks about the challenges Ngāti Whātua have faced and their post-settlement aspirations.

Find out more about Sharon Hawke:

Watch as Sharon Hawke discusses the impact of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Read the article: 'Sharon Hawke: The media were there to discredit us – and they did that very well', with Dale Husband, E-Tangata, 1 April 2018.

Read this article: 'Fires that shaped Auckland hapū history: Bastion Point, 40 years on', NZ Herald, 24/5/2018. 

Collection reference TZP422900
Year 2012
Credits Reporter: Raiha Johns

Dame Silvia Cartwright


Dame Silvia Cartwright’s career is studded with stellar highlights – she led the Cartwright inquiry into cervical cancer treatment at Auckland’s National Women’s Hospital; was New Zealand’s first female Chief District Court Judge (1989); was the first female High Court Judge (1993); was the second woman to serve as Governor-General (2001–06) and she was an international judge on the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal. 

More recently, in 2018, Dame Silvia was appointed both as Chair of the Law Society Working Group reporting on professional conduct within the profession, and head of the inquiry into EQC’s handling of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Although her career has been mostly within Government and legal structures, Dame Silvia Cartwright has, nevertheless, been fearless and unafraid to stand up for what she believes. Dame Silvia created a stir when she said, publicly, “prison does not reform” – such a political statement was considered risky for the neutral position of Governor-General. Cartwright is, however, an evidence-based person who is prepared to talk about what she knows, and she was speaking with the knowledge of a Judge.

In this excerpt from Talk Talk Dame Silvia responds to Finlay MacDonald’s question “was becoming a judge an ambition?” and she goes on to talk about equal opportunities for women and how this impacted her role as Governor-General.

Find out more about Dame Silvia Cartwright:

Read more at NZ Herald Trailblazers. 

Listen as Dame Silvia talks about the results of the Law Society Work Group report.

Read Dame Silvia's biography.

Collection reference TZP393613
Year 2010
Credits Interviewer: Finlay MacDonald

Hilda Halkyard-Harawira

Ngāti Hauā, Te Rarawa

Hilda Halkyard-Harawira has a reputation as a bold and fearless woman unafraid to fight for what she believes in. Since 1979, when she was part of the He Taua action group that confronted engineering students at Auckland University (and ultimately stopped their annual performance that parodied and insulted the haka Ka Mate), Halkyard-Harawira has been in the spotlight calling out racism and Treaty breaches whenever and wherever she sees them. 

Halkyard-Harawira is part of Te Kawariki movement who, in 1990, organised a national Māori Flag Competition to provide a symbol of liberation and identity for Māori. The winning entry is now referred to as "the Tino Rangatiratanga Flag" and is regularly seen – notably it now flies alongside the national flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day. 

While her actions have not always be popular with the public, there is no doubt that through them Hilda Halkyard-Harawira has created awareness around the Treaty of Waitangi and has played a part in the development of consciousness raising for Māori and successive governments.

In this interview broadcast on Morning Report in 1991 Halkyard-Harawira discusses the upcoming hīkoi to, and protest at, Waitangi.

Read about the He Taua action in The Spinoff. 

Collection reference 7595
Year 1991
Credits Interviewer: Geoff Robinson, Morning Report, RNZ National

Dame Naida Glavish

DNZM JP, Ngāti Whātua

Dame Rangimārie Naida Glavish was working as a telephone tolls operator in 1984 when she was reprimanded by her supervisors for using the greeting "Kia ora" when answering the telephone. She refused to back down and her case ignited national debate about the place of te reo Māori in New Zealand several years before it was finally recognised as an official language.

Glavish became known as "the kia ora lady" and has continued to be a champion of te reo Māori all her life. She became involved in politics and was President of the Māori Party from 2013 – 2016. In 2017, she was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her work in the health sector championing appropriate cultural support for Māori patients in the Auckland health system.

Listen to an interview with her, then known as Naida Povey, in this news item from Morning Report in 1984 when the row over "Kia ora" first hit the headlines.

Find out more about Dame Naida Glavish:

Listen to Dame Naida Glavish on Morning Report some 30 years later, in a bilingual interview with host Guyon Espiner to mark Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. 

Read an interview with Dame Naida Glavish on E-Tangata

Collection reference 27390
Year 1984
Credits Presenter: Geoff Robinson; Reporter: Carol Greensmith, Morning Report, RNZ National

Ettie Rout

Ettie Rout was a safe-sex campaigner during World War One, a role which gained her the love and support of New Zealand troops, but also saw her called 'the most wicked woman in Britain'.

In 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign, she formed an organisation called The Volunteer Sisterhood which enlisted New Zealand women to work overseas in hospitals and YMCA canteens supporting New Zealand soldiers. This was despite opposition from the Government which did not want women assisting with the war effort overseas.

Rout soon saw the terrible problem of venereal disease, which soldiers were contracting by visiting brothels in Egypt and Europe. She developed a safe-sex kit, to be supplied to all New Zealand men, containing condoms and other STD preventatives and she also encouraged health checks of sex workers to try and minimise the spread of disease.

For an unmarried woman to be talking about sex so openly was seen by many people as deeply immoral and she was accused of encouraging soldiers to visit sex workers. As a result, any mention of her or her organisation was banned in New Zealand newspapers and some women's organisations campaigned against her.

After the war Rout remained in Britain, where she published a book on contraception, which was also banned in New Zealand. She died on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands in 1936.

Listen to historian and author Jane Tolerton talk to Kim Hill about Rout and her work.

Find out more about Ettie Rout:

Read more about Ettie Rout on Te Ara.

View Ettie Rout's profile on

See teacher support materials for Ettie Rout on TKI

Collection reference 6373
Year 1990
Credits Interviewer: Kim Hill, Morning Report, RNZ National

Sue Bradford

Activist, academic and former politician, Sue Bradford is a bold and fearless woman who has consistently stood up for what she believes in and in doing so has given a voice to many who would otherwise have gone unheard. 

Bradford has been part of what she describes as the militant radical left of New Zealand street politics since she was a schoolgirl. After unsuccessfully contesting the Auckland Mayoralty in 1998 Bradford joined the New Labour Party and then the Green Party, and spent a decade (1999 to 2009) as a list MP for the Greens. 

In 2005, her Member’s Bill, which proposed amending section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 to remove the legal defence of “reasonable force” for parents prosecuted for assault on their children, was selected from the ballot. Known as “the anti-smacking bill” it caused widespread debate before finally being passed in 2007. Since leaving politics Bradford has remained active in education for social change and action against poverty.

Watch this excerpt from TVNZ News at 8 covering Sue Bradford’s Valedictory Speech to Parliament in 2009.

Find out more about Sue Bradford:

View Sue's blog on 'Pundit'

Read this The Holmes Interview: Sue Bradford – a feisty battler .

Follow Sue Bradford on Twitter.

Read the article The Monday Extract: A brief history of suffrage and struggle by Sue Bradford.

Collection reference TZP376834
Year 2009
Credits Production Company: TVNZ

Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter is an activist filmmaker who is interested in telling authentic stories that uplift communities and on topics that aren’t always told. Winter directed He Kākano Ahau – From the Spaces in Between which follows Kassie Hartendorp who is also featured in Standing on the Shoulders 'Courageous'

Winter’s filmmaking practice is collaborative: in making He Kākano Ahau, rather than getting release forms signed, shooting footage and disappearing into an edit suite, she and producer Jaimee Poipoi took part in two months of kapa haka practise and had an ongoing dialogue with participants while the film was being edited. 

More recently Winter has created the Minimum series – ten powerful short documentaries that share stories from women of all ages, ethnicities and sexualities working in minimum wage jobs in Aotearoa.

Listen to Kathleen Winter talk about the Minimum series in this interview with RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan.

Find out more about Kathleen Winter and Minimum

Watch the Minimum series.

Read an interview with Kathleen Winter.

Learn more about the Minimum series: The reality of life on the minimum wage in New Zealand.

Collection reference A276693
Year 2018
Credits Interviewer: Jesse Mulligan, RNZ

Dame Whina Cooper


Dame Whina Cooper was the charismatic leader whose cry “not one more acre of Māori land” inspired the 1975 hīkoi from Te Hāpua in the far north to Parliament in Wellington. 

Aged 80 at the time, Whina Cooper is perhaps best known for 'the Land March' and the new era of protest and reform it ushered in. It was not, however, her only achievement – among others she was the foundation President of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in 1951. When she stepped down in 1957 the conference bestowed the title Te Whaea o te Motu; as the public face of the League she had become one of the best-known Māori women in the country.

This excerpt from Whina, Te Whaea o te Motu – Mother of the Nation by documentary maker Bryan Bruce looks back to the beginnings of the Land March.

Find out more:

Read more about the Land March, 40 years on 'Not One More Acre'. 

Read more about Dame Whina Cooper in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and on

Listen to a selection of radio interviews and broadcasts by inserting 'Dame Whina Cooper' into our online catalogue.

Collection reference F22302
Year 1992
Credits Director/Producer: Bryan Bruce

Merata Mita

CNZM, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāi Te Rangi

The revolution isn’t just running out with a gun. If a film I make causes indigenous people to feel stronger about themselves, then I’m achieving something for the revolution.” 

Merata Mita is well-known as a pioneering indigenous filmmaker and activist. The director of landmark documentaries that called out prejudice and injustice, Merata Mita not only made films, she also inspired and mentored others. Mita helped set up and lead the indigenous filmmaking programme at the University of Hawai’i and spoke on many panels, workshops and festivals. Merata Mita is herself the subject of several documentaries – most recently Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen (2018) made by her son Heperi Mita.

In this excerpt from Te Kete Aronui – Merata Mita, she speaks about Patu! – the documentary about the 1981 Springbok Tour to New Zealand which divided the country in two and marked the largest and most sustained period of civil disobedience in our recent history. Filmed from the point-of-view of those against the tour, Patu! was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Aotearoa/New Zealand register in 2012.

Find out more about Merata Mita:

Read the NZ On Screen biography of Merata Mita

See this interview about Merata Mita on E-Tangata, with Chelsea Winstanley.

Read about Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen

Check out our blog – Gauge – where Mita's son Heperi Mita writes about making his film Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen

Collection reference F102803
Year 2007
Credits Director: Jane Evans, Producer: Chelsea Winstanley, Rhonda Kite

Kristine Bartlett


Aged care worker Kristine Bartlett improved pay for thousands of women, when she and her union took her employer to court in 2012. After 19 years in her role, Bartlett was still earning less than $15 an hour and her union argued that wages were low in the aged-care sector because most of the workers were women. 

The case went through multiple appeals, but finally resulted in a $2 billion settlement that boosted the wages of about 55,000 rest-home workers by between 15 and 50 percent. 

In 2018, Bartlett was named New Zealander of the Year.

Listen to an excerpt of a radio interview with Kristine Bartlett in which she explains that being the figurehead of the campaign did take its toll on her.

Listen to Bartlett's full interview

Collection reference A268314
Year 2017
Credits Interviewer: Susie Ferguson, Morning Report, RNZ National

Irihapeti Ramsden

ONZM, Ngāi Tahupōtiki, Rangitāne

Dr Irihapeti Ramsden was an anthropologist, nurse and nursing educator who brought about a revolution in the way the health system considers the cultural context of the patients it serves.

In the 1980's Dr Ramsden developed Kawa Whakaruruhau or Cultural Safety in Nursing Education, which was groundbreaking and stirred up controversy. It required the sector to consider Māori and other cultural identities that a patient brings with them as they access health services. These cultures include the culture of poverty, gender, sexual orientation or social class.

Today, many of Dr Ramsden’s recommendations have been legislated into nursing and midwifery education and adopted by other professions and movements across Aotearoa and internationally. 

Irihapeti Ramsden was also a member of the feminist Spiral Collective who published Keri Hulme's Booker-Prize-winning novel, The Bone People, in 1984, when mainstream publishers turned it down.

When Dr Ramsden passed away from cancer aged only 57, her loss was mourned by Dame Tariana Turia, who noted: "She had an astute mind, a vibrant personality and a warm and gentle style. She was an outstanding communicator – she was able to say difficult things that needed to be said, with such understanding that you couldn’t really take offence".

In this radio interview from 1993 Irihapeti explains what is meant by 'cultural safety.'

Listen to the full interview with Dr Irihapeti Ramsden. 

Find out more about Dr Irihapeti Ramsden:

Read Irihapeti Ramsden's PhD thesis on cultural safety

Read Dame Tariana Turia's poroporoaki to Irihapeti Ramsden.

Collection reference 42277
Year 1993
Credits Interviewer: Hēnare Te Ua, Te Puna Wai Kōrero, RNZ National

Dame Tariana Turia

DNZM, Ngāti Apa, Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Tūwharetoa

“To know ourselves, our strengths, our challenges and chart our own course”, is a philosophy Dame Tariana Turia lives by. She came to prominence during the 79-day Moutoa Gardens protest in 1995. 

Since then her impressive achievements have included being an MP for 18 years, tackling the tobacco industry and setting a national target to be “smokefree” by 2025. Turia is also synonymous with Whānau Ora. 

Tariana Turia challenged the Labour Government against the introduction of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004. Her bold actions were revolutionary and led to her leaving the Labour Government to establishing and co-leading the Māori Party. 

Turia was made a Dame in the 2015 New Year’s Honours List (her investiture was at Pūtiki Marae, Whanganui in 2018) and she was awarded the Blake Medal – the top honour for leadership given by the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

Watch this excerpt from a Sunday interview with Tariana Turia in 2004, following her decision to resign from the Labour Party over the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

Find out more about Dame Tariana Turia:

Read more about Dame Tariana Turia on the 100 Māori Leaders website.

Read an RNZ article about Dame Tariana Turia winning the Blake Medal

Collection reference TZP288100
Year 2004
Credits Presenter/Reporter: Miriama Kamo

Helen Kelly

Growing up with a fundamental belief in equality and humanity, trade unionist Helen Kelly always knew that she would be political and active in some way. Starting out as a teacher, Kelly became a union delegate and eventually, President of the Council of Trade Unions (CTU). 

A champion of workers’ rights Helen Kelly revolutionised safety standards in New Zealand forestry. Other campaigns included working with the Pike River families, and in the film, farming and fishing industries. 

As a person who stood up for what she believed in, Kelly continued as a passionate advocate even after a cancer diagnosis – during her illness she campaigned for the right to die with dignity and the right to use medicinal cannabis.

The feature documentary, Helen Kelly: Together had its world premiere in late 2018.

In this extract from an interview with RNZ’s John Campbell, Helen Kelly reflects on some of the influences in her life.

Find out more about Helen Kelly:

Read an NZ Herald article: "Helen Kelly: 'A relentless changemaker'"

Listen to the RNZ programme "Influential Kiwis talk about their influences: Helen Kelly"

Read this interview with Tony Sutorious about his Helen Kelly documentary

Collection reference F266261
Year 2016
Credits Interviewer: John Campbell, Checkpoint, RNZ National

Marilyn Waring


Aged just 23 when she was elected in 1975 to Parliament, Marilyn Waring was one of only four women MPs and she was half the average age of all MPs! 

As a young feminist, Waring was a threat to her male colleagues. She was considered revolutionary when, in 1984, after being blocked from speaking in the house on the nuclear issue, she advised the National Party leadership that she would cross the floor on the issue. Prime MInister Robert Muldoon responded by calling a Snap Election which Labour won by a landslide. 

Waring retired from politics in 1984, but has never stopped advocating for women.

This excerpt from Standing in the Sunshine looks back to the early days of Marilyn Waring’s political career. With thanks to Tom Parkinson, Sandra Coney, Liz Greenslade, Malcolm Hall and Tamalene Painting.

Find out more about Professor Marilyn Waring:

Read more about Marilyn Waring on

Visit Marilyn Waring's website.

View Professor Marilyn Waring's profile on the AUT website

Collection reference F21173
Year 1993
Credits Director: Melanie Read; Executive Producer: Tom Parkinson

Te Puea Hērangi

CBE, Waikato Tainui

Te Puea Hērangi was born in the years after the wars and land confiscations of the 1860s. She played a crucial role re-establishing the Kīngitanga and leading her people out of the poverty and powerlessness brought about by the dispossession of their lands. 

A bold and fearless leader, Hērangi devoted her adult life to improving the economic conditions and wellbeing of her people. Two of her many accomplishments were building Tūrangawaewae Marae, which enabled the Kīngitanga return to Ngāruawāhia; and the national status she achieved for the Kīngitanga among both Māori and Pākehā. 

Hērangi never stopped working – in 1937 when Pākehā press asked her what to write about her when she received her CBE she said “Ka mahi au, ka inoi au, ka moe au, ka mahi āno” (I work, I pray, I sleep and then I work again).

This excerpt from PounamuTe Puea Hērangi gives a brief biographical overview of Hērangi.

Find out more about Te Puea Hērangi:

Listen to the 1950 radio broadcast of the poroporoaki by Te Puea Hērangi for Sir Apirana Ngata. 

Listen to a 1938 radio broadcast by Te Puea Hērangi at the opening of Tūrongo House. 

Read the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry for Te Puea Hērangi.

Read about Te Puea Hērangi at

Collection reference TZP96497
Year 1990
Credits Director: Hone Edwards; Narrator: Don Selwyn