We asked people: Can you wear moko if you don’t whakapapa Māori?

Is it appropriate for non Māori to wear moko? A question that has sparked much conversation over the years. Many people are split on the topic and opinions vary on whether or not those who don’t whakapapa Māori should be able to don the ancient markings of te iwi Māori.

Tattooing is prevalent in many cultures and the Māori practice of tāmoko is well renowned and respected across the world. But who is tāmoko for, who can wear it, and are there versions of moko specifically reserved for non Māori?

Ohinga went to Toi Kiri: World Indigenous Tattoo Culture Festival held at Whareroa Marae in Tauranga, to ask people what they think on the topic.

Moko enthusiasts, those who wear moko and those who are moko artists all have different ideas on the topic and various reasons for their opinions.

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho and the NZ on Air Public Interest Journalism Fund. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.

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