Dr Hadas Ore: “Filling up the other Kete” The Polyfeminism of Contemporary Older Māori Jewish Women in NZ

Interviewed by Tim LynchDecember 6, 2017
Share this on  

In this interview, Dr Hadas Ore speaks about contemporary Maori Jews, which is the subject for her post-doctoral project. There's been a Jewish History
in New Zealand since the very beginning of the 19th Century - so it should come as no surprise that some of our population identify as Māori Jews.
This is a segment population however, that most of us know very little about.

Hadas is also interested in using her own social privileges, as a Jewish-Israeli academic woman, for ameliorating the Palestinian situation by speaking
out about it. We discuss this later in the interview.


This interview discusses the agency and power that are negotiated by older Māori Jewish women as their mana wāhine, renamed Polyfeminism. Polyfeminism
is forms of feminine agency employing practical remembrance and resilience that combines the best of the Māori, Jewish and Pākeha (European) worldviews.

Hadas’ analysis is based on a case study of in-depth interviews with six indigenous women aged over 50 years old and their everyday memories of their
mixed ethnic tupuna as they resist injustices, and become role models for the next generation.


The interviews were conducted during 2016-2017 as part of the first research project on the well-being and success stories of contemporary Māori Jews
in New Zealand. It looks closely into their narratives and memories of growing up at home. Hadas show that despite of the strong hold of racism
in and outside their whānau, they are typified by ‘no-fuss’ attitude toward their mixed ethnic identity.

As older Māori Jewish women, they derive power and constitute their identity through postgraduate education in subjects related to health and education,
and in most cases, learning Te Reo Māori (the Māori language).

The telling metaphor in the title is by one of the women: “filling up the other kete”, encompasses their growing political awareness and long term
labour in attaining the cultural knowledge and education that lead to a balanced and healthier way of living. This metaphor also evokes comfort
through the resilience and practical indigenous knowledge that feed forward their well-being and the well-being of their whānau and beyond.


The second half of the interview is about the Israel Palestine question, which has been ramped up by Trump since the interview was recorded. Hadas does see a two state solution as being the answer, but she added
– “But then there is Jerusalem.”

Hadas describes how she has found it difficult to speak out about the issues Palestinians face when in Israel. While she is happy with Israel as founded
by the Balfour Agreement, she finds the new Jewish settlements unacceptable. She feels that there was opportunity for both races to have worked
things out together if there had been respect and understanding between them from the start.

As it is now, however, if is not safe for Jews in Israel to speak out against the status quo. It causes rifts in families, and people are ostracised
if they have a more liberal view. The media in Israel is controlled, and so many people hear only the official line. Hadas believes that, like
Maori, the Palestinians should have had some compensation for land loss.


Hadas is a Jewish-Israeli migrant mother-of-three who made her home in New Zealand in the past 16 years. She is also a social anthropologist interested
in food and emotions, nostalgia, home and memory, and issues of gender, migration and indigeneity.

Hadas gained her BA and MA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and her PhD from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. As a social
researcher she worked for the Israeli parliament in the education committee, and the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. In 2016 Hadas won the Dame
Joan Metge post-doctoral award by the Kate Edgar Charitable Education Trust to conduct the first study on Māori-Jews. Currently Hadas is teaching
Hebrew at Kadimah School in Auckland, the only Jewish day school in New Zealand.

This interview was sponsored by The Awareness Party

Share this on  

Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

You May Also Like