TA MOKO MÃORI TAT­TOO

SHIBUI Issue - - DESTINATION DESIGNER - CU­RA­TOR KA­RINA EAST­WAY THE MAKER ARAPETA KAI­WAI COUN­TRY NEW ZEALAND

IN AUCK­LAND NEW ZEALAND, KARANGA­HAPE ROAD IS SOME­WHAT OF AN ABNORMALITY. BOOK­ENDED BY QUEEN STREET AND PON­SONBY ROAD, KARANGA­HAPE ROAD (GEN­ER­ALLY KNOWN AS K’ROAD) WAS THE ONLY STREET IN AUCK­LAND THAT HELD A MÃORI NAME UN­TIL THE MID 20TH CEN­TURY. IT WAS A FIT­TING PLACE FOR SHIBUI & CO TO CATCH UP WITH ARAPETA KAI­WAI, WHO PRAC­TISES THE TRA­DI­TIONAL ART OF TA MOKO OR MÃORI TAT­TOO.

CAN YOU TELL US A LIT­TLE ABOUT TA MOKO?

Moko up­holds the in­tegrity and tra­di­tional ways of Mãori tat­too and the struc­ture of the de­sign, al­though the tra­di­tional patterns have changed and be­come more con­tem­po­rary. For ex­am­ple if a doc­tor comes in for a tat­too we will have to find the clos­est fit as there’s no di­rect sym­bol trans­la­tion.

WHAT’S THE HIS­TORY BE­HIND THE PATTERNS?

The tat­too pat­tern of ta moko were orig­i­nally given to you – it was some­thing you had to achieve. It iden­ti­fied your role (eg fish­er­man or gar­dener) and also your sta­tus. It was pre­dom­i­nately ge­neal­ogy based and a ref­er­ence of your achieve­ment and life story.

WHAT IS YOUR BACK­GROUND IN WORK­ING WITH TA MOKO?

My back­ground is in tra­di­tional Mãori carv­ing which I learnt grow­ing up in Ru­a­to­ria (on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Is­land). Moko is quite strong there and my grand­par­ents were well ed­u­cated in the art form.

WHY THE CHANGE TO TAT­TOO WORK?

Carv­ing took a long time to see any re­sults. With tat­too I get to see in­stant re­sults and I get to ex­press my cre­ative side more quickly. I spe­cialise in fine-line moko work.

WHAT’S YOUR TOP TIP FOR ANY­ONE VIS­IT­ING AUCK­LAND?

I would say get out and see the beaches and the bay ar­eas. Lots of peo­ple come to Auck­land and just stay in the city, but we’ve got amaz­ing beaches to ex­plore.

PRE­VI­OUS PAGE Arapeta Kai­wai CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE Arapeta at work; Otau­tahi Tat­too Stu­dio (out­side); Arapeta’s tat­too work; rose sketch; stu­dio wall dec­o­ra­tion OP­PO­SITE PAGE Otau­tahi Tat­too Stu­dio (out­side)

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