TA MOKO MÃORI TATTOO
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.
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