Tā moko studio opens its doors

Traditional Māori tattooing, known as tā moko, is a tāonga (treasure) to Māori people and culture.


To celebrate, visitors to Te Puia | New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) will be able to take away a permanent reminder of their visit with the opening of the institute’s new tā moko studio.


The studio will give visitors an insight into the traditional and contemporary art form and sits proudly alongside the Wānanga Precinct’s existing disciplines – wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving and a bronze foundry. Accomplished tā moko artists, Arekatera Maihi and Jacob Tautari, will lead the studio.


Mr Maihi says there has been the desire to create a tā moko experience for some time, but it needed to be done with the right level of respect – something the new studio achieves.


“New Zealand is experiencing a resurgence in tā moko with huge demand from Māori and non-Māori. There has also been increased international demand for the art form.


“Tā moko has been a popular element of NZMACI’s Tuku Iho | Living Legacy exhibition - an international cultural engagement and events programme - offshore, and it is now a privilege to be able to offer tā moko at home.”


Unlike a kirituhi (meaning ‘skin art’ - the Māori term for a general tattoo), getting a moko is a very different process.


Mr Maihi says what makes tā moko special is that it’s not simply an image or design out of a book, but a unique piece reflective of an individual’s story.


“The design of each moko is selected through a korero (conversation) with the artist, with each symbol representing an aspect of that person’s story.


“You’re not going to know what you are going to get until it is finished. Even the artist doesn’t know.”


Mr Maihi says educating people about tā moko is an important part of the process.


“This is an exclusive experience and chance to wear art with individualised meaning.”


All manuhiri (visitors), whether receiving a tā moko or not, will be able to gain an insight into the art form through a large viewing window, which can be closed for privacy if needed.


Manuhiri can book an appointment online 72 hours in advance.