Akava'ine

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'akava'ine is a Cook Islands Māori word used to refer to women who have an inflated opinion of themselves, draw attention to themselves in ways that disrupt groupness, do not heed others advice, or who act in a self-serving or self-promoting way.[1]


Within the last decade it is becoming increasingly popular in descibing the transgender or transsexual of Māori descent from the Cook Islands. Contrary to popular belief claiming 'Akava'ine as an old Māori custom, it is rather a contemporary identity almost soley influenced by other Polynesians, naturally, through cross-cultural interaction of Polynesians living in New Zealand especially the Samoan: "Fa'afafine" in which transgenders hold a special place in Sāmoan society. [2]

Etymology[edit]

The term 'akava'ine is a prefix of "aka" (to be or to behave like) and "va'ine" (woman).[3] The New Zealand Māori word : "Whakawahine" has a parallel meaning.

Antonym: 'akatāne[4] - Act like a man, have manly qualities; be a tomboy.[3]

Other terms[edit]

Sometimes the word laelae is also used, typically when implying criticism or ridicule of feminine behaviour displayed by a man, for example being described as effeminate or homosexual.[1] Laelae is the colloquial Cook Islands term; the word tutuva'ine (meaning "like a woman") is used less frequently[1] Homosexuality is illegal for males in the Cook Islands.[5]

Culture[edit]

The usage of the Māori word "'Akava'ine" for a transgender is very recent, and there is no evidence of the third gender (transsexual) being present in traditional Cook Islands Māori society. It is not documented in any written encounters of the Māori people during the Pre-Christian era to the mid-late 1800s - early 1900s. As detailed as these accounts of Cook Islands Māori society are, it is highly unlikely they would have left out information regarding transsexuals/third genders if they were ever prominent or even present . Much unlike the transgenders of Samoa, Tahiti and Hawai'i which are well recorded. [6]

Homosexuality is outlawed in the Cook Islands for men whereas women are free to have homesexual relations. [7]

Some 'akava'ine take part in the making of tivaevae (quilts), an activity traditionally done by the women of the community.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kalissa Alexeyeff (2009). Dancing from the Heart: Movement, Gender, and Cook Islands Globalization. University of Hawaii Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-8248-3244-5. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  2. ^ http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/gender-diversity/page-3
  3. ^ a b Jasper Buse; Raututi Taringa (1995). Cook Islands Maori Dictionary. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-7286-0230-4. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Kalissa Alexeyeff (2009). Dancing from the Heart: Movement, Gender, and Cook Islands Globalization. University of Hawaii Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-8248-3244-5. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  5. ^ International Lesbian and Gay Association (2006). "LGBT World legal wrap up survey" (PDF). p. 4. 
  6. ^ http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-BucMangi.html
  7. ^ International Lesbian and Gay Association (2006). "LGBT World legal wrap up survey" (PDF). p. 4. 
  8. ^ Walter E. Little; Patricia Ann McAnany (16 October 2011). Textile Economies: Power and Value from the Local to the Transnational. Rowman Altamira. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-7591-2061-7. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Alexeyeff, Kalissa (2009). Dancing from the heart: movement, gender, and Cook Islands globalization. University of Hawaii Press
  • Buse, Jasper; Taringa, Raututi (1995). Cook Islands Maori dictionary, edited by Bruce Biggs & Rangi Moeka'a, published by The Ministry of Education, Government of the Cook Islands