Tenei matou te hunga moko e tu nei i roto i tenei ao
Hurihuri ao tangata

I wear my pride upon my skin
My pride has always been within
I wear my strength upon my face
Comes from another time and place
Bet you didn’t know that every line has a message for me
Did you know that

The word tattoo describes the marking of patterns by
Inserting coloured dyes under a smooth skin
The word moko represents a traditional custom in which
Spirals unique to Maori are carved deeply below the skins
Surface to produce a groove scar – did you know that

Because the head the most sacred part of the body was touched
blood spilt the whole ceremony was tapu
The tip of a birdbone chisel dipped into sooty black pigment
Tapped by a beater to the sound of songs created to soothe
The painful process of creating moko so don’t use that word tattoo

Every spiral has a name ever line on the face don’t use that word tattoo


The classic Maori moko has the male bearing complex spirals on
Both cheeks both sides of the nose
Lines spread between the eyes to the temple the nose to the chin
Over nineteen names have been identified for different parts of the pattern
Women received kauae or chin moko
some copied their Mothers or grandmothers
others allowed the artist to express their creativity
The moko indicated genealogy, rank ,accomplishment
It represented masculinity, beauty, warriorhood, identity
So don’t use that word tattoo


The moko reflected the carvings and rafter patterns inside the Whare tipuna
but some were made so distinctive they were like an autograph
a beautiful signature written all over the face
In 1815 Te Pehi Kupe drew his own moko without the aid of a Mirror
every line firmly in his mind and then he drew the moko
Of his brother and his son

Did you know that

The moko reflected the Maori way of life
everything was connected, religion, war, lovemaking and death
For this generation, the kauae and moko were only seen in paintings
but now those images have come to life
Netana Whakaari said in 1921
You can lose your most valuable property through misfortune in various ways
you may be robbed of all your prized possessions
but of your moko you cannot be deprived
It will be your ornament and your companion until your last day
so don’t use that word tattoo


Korero ki nga tamariki tenei kaupapa ta moko he taonga
Tuku iho ki nga tipuna


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