How the art of Tātatau is empowering indigenous wāhine in Australia

Content warning: This video discusses suicide. 

“Tātatau is so important to me because it’s something I don’t just wear, but it’s something I live.” 

Paige Mafi is a tattoo artist of Cook Island, Māori and Italian heritage who specialises in the sacred traditional art of Tātatau moko.

Now living in Australia, Paige decided to have her face tattooed after the tragic loss of her first baby.

“Nothing brings you into the present moment like pain does and our tūpuna knew that, and that’s why we mark ourselves and that’s why we heal from our markings,” she says.

She is passionate about using her skill as a way to empower indigenous wāhine women who have gone through similar loss and emotional struggles, not just as a way to show their identity but also as a way to carry their story with them and use it as protection.

“...the awareness of not just Tātatau moko being an identity but it being your story and your grief and you wearing it on your skin as an armour.”

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.

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