• Atua | Spirit

    Identity and Integrity as the Moko Dries

When you see someone with a moko, a traditional Māori tattoo, it’s like getting a glance into their soul. Because if you know the meaning of this visual art form ibecomes a language, a language you are able to learn translate and understand.

A moko is a powerful statement of one’s identity as a Māori – a beautiful and artistic expression of what defines a person and their ancestry. It’s an important milestone between childhood and adulthood and bears with it by many rites and rituals.

Both men and women can receive a moko.
A facial moko is believed to be the most sacred part of the body so getting a moko on the face is viewed as a taonga, a treasure – with both the purpose and application regarded as sacred.

Two sides of the story

There is also significance to where moko are placed. The left side of the body is dedicated to the mother’s genealogy, because it is the nurturing side. The right side is dedicated to the father’s side, the more dominant, stronger side.

Facial mokos below the eyes represent physical wisdom and achievements gained while mokos above the eyes represents spiritual wisdom. A woman’s moko is worn on the chin, as well as occasionally appearing on the forehead, upper lip, nostrils, and throat.

“There are 5 different triangles featured in my moko. I wanted these markings to represent my mother, my father, my grandmother, my little brother and my little sister. The people who live in my home. They have been the people who have shaped me the most as a person. I understand that I need to be on track and be a role model because they follow what I do. And wherever I travel to in the world, I have my whānau, my family with me and the relationships I’ve created with them.

My moko is here on my right foot, because when performing kapa haka, we are always stamping and it is always our right foot. It helps us keep on time, but it also brings life to your movement.”

Cultural Performer
at Tamaki Māori Village

“For me, growing up it was my mother’s family that was my strong side. I didn’t have much to do with my father so this is her on my right side.

Within our tattoo we have manaia – the manaia are a representation of gods, guardians or special people within the wearer’s life. I refer to my manaia as guardians because they serve as reminder to take care of our land. Without land and without female – mankind wouldn’t exist. The land was here long before we got here and will be here long after, so we are here to look after it.”

Mike Soloman
Food and Beverage Supervisor
at Tamaki Māori Village

Three is a lucky number for me as a Māori, so I have three main designs here that I have chosen to carry with me.

• Mangōpare is a hammer head shark to protect me
and my whānau.

• Puhoro is the stormy sea, swift and always
unpredictable, always changing, that’s our life force

Manaia are the kaitiaki – my guardian for when I travel this world.”

Mike Soloman
Food and Beverage Supervisor
at Tamaki Māori Village