Renowned moko artist sets up shop at Porirua

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Porirua’s new­est moko stu­dio is open for busi­ness.

The Moko Ake stu­dio, run by renowned carver and moko artist Mark Kopua, had its of­fi­cial open­ing on June 24. The premises will also be used to show mod­ern art, jew­ellery and cloth­ing, the lat­ter from Kopua’s ap­pren­tice Taryn Te Uira Beri’s per­sonal line.

Moko will be at the fore­front of the new busi­ness, how­ever. Pre­vi­ously based on the East Cape, Beri says their move to Porirua was a home­com­ing for her, be­ing born there and of Ngati Toa de­scent.

‘‘We re­ally wanted to bring moko to Ngati Toa, to this area, and show off the strength and cul­tural ben­e­fits that it has. Here [in Ti­tahi Bay], we’re in the heart of the com­mu­nity, close to Taka­puwahia and Hon­goeka, and we want to pro­mote artists in the Bay, bring peo­ple to­gether in one place. This place could be a hub, some­where cool and fun to get art pump­ing.’’

The ‘‘ cul­ture-based’’ art form that is moko is not some­thing that just sits on your skin, Beri says.

‘‘It’s what’s be­hind it that re­ally counts. It’s an ex­pres­sion of your whaka­papa, the ge­neal­ogy of your whanau – moko says who you are, where you’ve come from, the jour­ney you’re on, even the skills and qual­i­ties you pos­sess. Moko is very per­sonal.’’

Beri says ev­ery­one from lo­cals – Maori, Pa­cific and Euro­pean – to over­seas tourists get moko, with Scots and French­men inked by Kopua in the past. He has also con­ducted sem­i­nars on moko.

Peo­ple would travel a long way to the East Cape to see him.

But it is a se­ri­ous un­der­tak­ing. Along with the per­ma­nence, there is the cost – $200 an hour.

A con­sul­ta­tion is car­ried out, and then a moko is drawn free­hand di­rectly on the skin, some­thing which sets Kopua aside from other artists. Of­ten, the moko is inked on the same day.

Ev­ery­one is wel­come to drop into the stu­dio, Beri says.

‘‘It’s ex­cit­ing to be here af­ter all that time in To­laga Bay; we’re stoked to come to the Bay and are look­ing for­ward to meet­ing a lot of peo­ple.’’

Moko Ake is open 10am till 5pm week­days or by ap­point­ment, Jil­let St shops, Ti­tahi Bay.

Photo: NORM HEKE

Mak­ing his mark: Mark Kopua hard at work on one of his de­signs – he free­hands the client’s moko on the skin be­fore his tools come out.

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