About Dame Mira Szászy

The late Dame Mira Szászy DBE, CB, QSMJP, BA, DipSocSci, LLD (Vic) was one of the most outstanding Māori women leaders of the 20th century.

Dame Mira was the first Māori woman to graduate with a degree from the University of Auckland. She was a former President of The Māori Women's Welfare League. In 1990, she was made Dame Commander of the British Empire.

Dame Mira made significant contributions in education, broadcasting, social welfare and small business development. In 1993 she received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Victoria University of Wellington in recognition of her contribution to the nation.

On the lack of speaking rights on the Marae for women:

"It's a symbol of oppression. Even the Marae itself is a symbol of oppression for me because it is there that I am denied my very basic right of free speech. But it's not just the free speech ... It is the belief that women have their own wisdom to impart.

"I don't think I have been particularly popular with some men. I suspect that some of that resistance is based on insecurity about their own position, and a desire perhaps to retain the last bastion of power that they have. I understand that our men have lost their forums or their power in society. They're not in industry, they're not in politics, nowhere do they have power, our people. What do you do when you don't have power? You oppress those you can oppress.

"I have been told that to allow women to speak on the Marae would undermine Māori culture and would be its death knell. I said that if that is what Māori culture is hinged on, then I for one wouldn't regret it dying. Because I don't believe it you see.

"I don't believe that giving women their rights as human beings is a destructive thing. I think it's a very positive thing and I believe that the liberation of every human being is part of the development of human society as a whole."


My first love is my family but I love my tribe
I know my tribe but I am proud of my race
I am proud of my race but I am not racist
Therefore I belong to my race but I would serve my nation
I would serve my nation but I have a reverence for humanity
Because I have a reverence for all humanity
I would oppose inhumanity anywhere and everywhere
It is because I have this reverence for humanity that I grieve for all who now suffer,
and pray for all mankind
It is because I believe in God that I have this reverence for humanity.
My family, my tribe, my race, my nation
Let this be my vision of the future
My extended family
All creeds, all races, all nations
Let this be my new world
A part of my own humanity.
In the beginning was God
All things were made by Him
And as many as were made by Him
And as many as received Him
To them gave He power to become His children
This is my destiny
This is my prayer