Urupounamu Episode Seven - Life After Moko

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:05 pm on 8 November 2020
Urupounamu hosts Ngairo Eruera, Justine Murray and Te Kehukehu Patara.

Urupounamu hosts Ngairo Eruera, Justine Murray and Te Kehukehu Patara. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Since the revitilsation of moko in the mid 1990's, the commentary that a wearer must adapt their lifestyles or learn how to speak Māori has been part of the narrative of moko for years.  In recent weeks the appointment of Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta as the Minister of Foreign Affairs sparked international headlines with a focus on her moko kauae.

On episode seven of the kōrero series Urupounamu, hosts Justine Murray, Ngairo Eruera and Te Kehukehu Patara talk about the perceived expectations both before and after receiving moko (customary Māori tattoo). Te Kehukehu received his mataora (facial tattoo) some years ago after he was approached by his elders. Te Kehukehu considered their tono (request) over the next five years, he agreed knowing that wearing mataora would have an impact on his whanau, his job and his life, he shares this story.

Ngairo Eruera says that moko is a tāonga and is an individual choice.

"It's a personal choice and if you are susceptible or vulnerable to other peoples opinions of your own choices then those are going to weigh in around expectations before, during and after receiving moko"

Heywood Kuka was in his early twenties he received his puhoro (thigh and buttock tattoo) and says it was a time when he and his close friends had it done as well. Kuka, who is principal at Te Wharekura o Mauao in Tauranga credits close friend  taa moko practitioner Stuart Mcdonald in bringing moko back to the Tauranga region.

"The process between deciding and getting it down was very short...however the thinking around it was lifelong...there is motivation and intent...if we think about why males get puhoro it was because they were warriors...nowadays our warriors are out there doing the mahi on the rugby fields or our kaiwero...so [there is] a change of thinking that you have to be a warrior" Kuka says.

A couple of years ago Kuka decided to receive his mataora (facial tattoo) and says it was a decision that had been simmering for a long time.

"It was like peeling back the skin...peeling back the exterior that had been put upon us, to reveal our inner mataora, that's something that I aspire to...if you're brave enough to lie down on a table and get it down on your face and you are brave enough to carry it around in the community and everywhere you go,  you deserve it" he says

Urupounamu also features highlights of the 2014 Taa Moko symposium - "Think before you Ink" with Shane Te Ruki.

Urupounamu is a kōrero session on kaupapa effecting Māori and focused on the tangata whenua experience in this forever changing modern world.  RNZ Producer Justine Murray, Māori Language Kaiako Ngairo Eruera, and Moana Radio host Te Kehukehu Patara lay their whakaaro on the tēpu, challenge each other and themselves.   Urupounamu will feature as a regular series on Te Ahi Kaa, it is recorded in the studio at  Moana Radio station in Tauranga and is available as a podcast.


Te Kehukehu Patara

Te Kehukehu Patara Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Te Kehukehu Patara (Ngai te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui) is a host of the daily te reo Māori show Te Pae Moana on Moana Radio, a former crane operator at the Tauranga port for many years, he is a native speaker and has travelled the world with his superstar surfer grandson Kehu Butler. He enjoys spending time with his whanau, and still loves to surf.

Ngairo Eruera

Ngairo Eruera Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Ngairo Eruera (Ngāti Ranginui, Tuhoe, Ngāti Awa) is a Māori language kaiako and consultant at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, he is a member of the Waikato based kapahaka group Te Iti Kahurangi and after spending 20+ years in the Waikato moved back home to live with his whānau in Katikati. He enjoys working around home and in the māra, researching tribal and local history and working within communities to enhance communal knowledge.


Justine Murray

Justine Murray Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Justine Murray (Ngai te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui) is the producer and presenter of Te Ahi Kaa the weekly kaupapa Māori programme at RNZ.  Justine began her career in Iwi radio as a Journalist, announcer, copywriter and programme director, she is a writer, poet and is in her third year of studies at Te Whare Wānanga o Te Awanuiārangi in Whakatane. Justine enjoys spending time with whanau.