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.
In pre- colonial Māori society, when a released prisoner or slave was returned to their home people, special karakia were used to remove the negative noa they were under, thus restoring their intrinsic tapu. The author discusses whether karakia can be used in contemporary times to restore the mana and tapu of modern- day released prisoners to aid them in their journey of rehabilitation. He also questions whether this practice of restoring tapu and the sense of tapu has any use for survivors of sexual crimes as part of their healing.