Tapu and noa are often cited as fundamentals by which we enact tikanga, promote well-being and divide labour. However, exactly how tapu informed precolonial gender divisions of labour is difficult to examine, mostly because of the pervasive influence Christianity has had on cosmological narratives, from which tapu derives (Mikaere, 2017; Rewi, 2010; Te Awekotuku, 1994). This article outlines some commentary on the relationship between tapu, gender roles and colonisation, and tries to extend that scholarship. We posit that the tikanga around tapu and noa in contemporary times may be more rigid than it was before, potentially a negative effect of cosmological colonisation. Furthermore, we suggest that precolonial labour may have been divided by the fundamentals of tapu, whereas in contemporary times it seems gender is the primary consideration. The centring (or recentring) of tapu in such conversations may be a worthy decolonisation avenue as we seek to empower Māori of all genders.