Tania & Holly
Michael Gross

It wasn’t until Tania Stanley was a young teenager that she saw her first kapa haka (traditional Maori performing arts) and got curious about her culture.

Decades later, she’s deeply tied to her ancestors and heritage and helping to revive Pouwaru, or Maori Weaponry, indigenous art that had been almost lost since the early 19th century due to colonization. She’s been studying the art for 11 years and is the only highly ranked women in Te Whare Tuu Taua o Aotearoa — The National School of Ancient Maori Weaponry of New Zealand.

She is able to teach from the first level right up to the seventh, and has classes in Maori and mainstream schools as well as adult classes. Tania sees the art as one way to help build youths’ confidence and to perserve their own cultures.

The Divas crew caught up with her at a marae based in West Auckland,where we were dazzled by her passion, dedication, energy and eloquence not to mention her display of her prowess in Pouwhitu (the seventh grade of the art).

From the Interview

“We have a lot that we need to teach and if we don’t pass it down to our younger generation, we could lose a lot of our knowledge.”

“I believe that every iwi [Maori people/tribe] must have, did have, women fighters…whether it been in a subtle way, whether it been a strong way, whether it had been with weapons, without weapons.”

“Are we just going to play Maori one day and something else the next, or are we going to live what we believe in?”

“What you see here, we also do in our homes, and for us to have that freedom to do that is another step to helping our next generation. If it’s not going to happen at home, it’s not going to happen…”

“We have to remember that the moment we pick up a weapon, we better know how to use it. You sort of have to remember that it’s not a show thing, it’s not entertainment or anything like that or to make a flash.”

“Mana is like…all their teachings, all the knowledge that I’ve got from here is on the line.”

Tania Stanley

pouwhitu pro


Auckland & Taranaki, NZ

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