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September 10, 2018 | by  | in Arts Te Ao Mārama |
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There are struggles and benefits of every action you make.  Receiving a moko kauae was no exception to this. This article will outline the majority of the details that surrounded my decision to receive a moko kauae, and the ongoing aftermath of that decision.

I grew up in Tūranganui – a – Kiwa, a small place with a population mounting up to a whopping 30,000 residents.  We all know each other or each other’s cousins. We all went to school together one year or another. We’ve all played each other in weekend sports.  It’s the town that never changes. I grew up seeing my kuia, koroua, aunties and uncles receiving the kauae or mataora, and so wearing tā moko on your face was becoming normalized.  Enough of our culture has already been ripped away, so gaining the strength to be able to perform this traditional art form is a way of taking it back.

There’s a whole spectrum of reasons as to why a person will get a moko kauae.

In recent years I have wondered what I would look like with a moko kauae.  This was without expectation of getting one in the immediate future. The decision to get one was not decided on a whim.  Many years of wānanga, discussion, had gone in to the decision to receive my moko kauae. We had discussed the reasons for and against.  How it would affect my life as a young person in the big world. How it would affect my behaviors outside of home. Details right down to how I present myself to the world were discussed at length because I had to realize that once it was done, I would become another face associated with the Māori culture.  The fact that there are already so many stigmas and stereotypes about the Māori people makes it harder for me as a young Māori to know the right way to behave at every point in time in front of the public eye. Not only am I being judged as an individual, my whole ethnicity will be, because I wear it on my face.

My mother and I have always said that when one is ready the other would support.  I would have never wanted to share this experience with anyone but her. For some, the decision was not theirs to make.  For some, the time and place were not theirs to choose. For some, the artist was not even known to them. I feel fortunate to have had a hand in specifying these details for my own experience.

I received my moko kauae on the 30th June, 2018.  This was four years to the day that my family and I buried my grandfather.  I tāia au ki taku ūkaipō, ki taku tūrangawaewae, ki Te Poho o Mahaki. Surrounded my my whānau, kuia, aunties and uncles, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

“Nau mai ki te Kāhui Tara”.  I pōhiritia māua ko taku māmā e te hunga mau moko kauae.  Engari anō mo te hunga kāre e mārama ana ki ngā tikanga e pā ana ki te kawe i te moko ki te kauae.

There is a type of support person whose support comes in the form of getting one herself. This is loosely termed as being a “whāriki”.  The intricacies of the supporting role are unknown to most of the public and in turn, their views are often misconstrued based on their limited knowledge about moko kauae.   As I understand it, to be a part of a whāriki is to be under the same tuāpapa, the same foundations upon which you chose to receive a moko kauae.

I never knew the effect this would have on my life.  To this moment I still get looks and feel the judgement.  Because of my age. Because of the way that I dress. Because of the things that I partake in.  There are real concerns out there about what a person carrying a moko kauae and the ramifications their actions have on the rest of the Māori people.

Ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that I didn’t do it for anyone but myself and my whānau.  If there are questions, I am open to them. Come and ask, before you judge.

“Kua roa e ngaukino te mamae ki roto i te whatuamanawa i to ngarohanga atu.

No reira kua tau koe ki te whatumanawa, a, inaianei kua taa koe ki te kiri.

Anei nga tohu maumahara kia koe, e kore koe e warewaretia e matou, e kore e mimiti te aroha, e kore e maroke to puna roimata.

Ko au ko Apanui, ko Apanui ko au.”

Nā Tahua Pihema


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