Nikora, L.W., Rua, M. & Te Awekotuku, N. (2003). In your face: wearing Moko Maori facial marking in todays world. Prepared for Tatau/Tattoo: Embodied Art and Cultural Exchange Conference, Victoria University, Wellington, 21-23 August 2003.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/463
The early voyagers, missionaries, settlers all reacted to the pukanohi, to the marked faces of the Maori people during the period of first contact, and the century following it. Their accounts are vivid, judgemental, revealing, telling us as much about them, as it does about the people they described. Curiosity and horror are mixed with a genuine fascination; where sternly evangelizing words failed, armed confrontation occurred; and we now live with the results, te ao hou, a new world. In this world, today, wahine mau kauae, tangata mau moko, pukanohi - wearers - are speaking for themselves, about themselves, and commenting on how others view them. Unanimously, they insist the decision to take the marking is about continuity, affirmation, identity, and commitment. It is also about wearing those ancestors, carrying them into the future; as their moko become a companion, a salient being with its own life force, its own integrity and power, beyond the face.