Newsreader makes history as she becomes the first person with a traditional lower chin tattoo to anchor primetime news bulletin – and she hopes other Maori women follow in her footsteps
A Kiwi newsreader has made history by becoming the first person to anchor a TV news bulletin with a traditional face tattoo.
Oriini Kaipara, 37, who has a moko kauae, a traditional lower chin tattoo worn by Māori women, read Newshub Live’s 6pm news bulletin in New Zealand on Monday.
The mother-of-four from Auckland discovered she was 100 per cent Māori after taking a DNA test in 2017.
Oriini Kaipara, 37, who has a moko kauae, a traditional lower chin tattoo worn by Māori women, read Newshub Live’s 6pm news bulletin on Monday
The mother-of-four from Auckland said the moment fulfilled a lifelong dream and hoped she was the first in a long line of Maori women reading the news with traditional tattoos
The newsreader then decided to adopt the Māori tattoo in 2019 in a process known as Tā moko, which represents family heritage and social status.
For Māori women the moko was a rite of passage, marking the passage between girl and adulthood and symbolises transformation.
Kaipara said presenting the primetime bulletin fulfilled a lifelong dream and said she hoped she was the first in a long line of Māori women reading the news with traditional tattoos.
‘It’s really exciting. I’m really enjoying it. I’m not speechless, but it’s a buzz. I am proud of how far I’ve come in being able to anchor 6pm right now,’ she told Stuff.
Kaipara made headlines in 2019 when she became the first person with a face tattoo to present mainstream news when filling in for TVNZ’s midday broadcast.
She regularly does packages for the main bulletin, becoming a fan favourite because of her Maori markings.
Oriini Kaipara is hosting the 6pm bulletin on Newshub Live this week
Kaipara is bilingual and of Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Rangitihi descent, something she proudly displays while working as a prominent journalist
Oriini Kaipara, 37, has a moko kauae, a traditional lower chin tattoo worn by Māori women
‘It’s definitely a step forward, and a step-up. If there was a goal for me, it would be anchoring prime time news, and that’s happened,’ she said.
‘We’ve got a good team at Newshub, I don’t feel the pressure as much as I used to when I first started out in journalism. But that comes with doing the hard yards, and then actually realising it and doing it is really exciting.’
Kaipara is bilingual and of Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Rangitihi descent, something she proudly displays while working as a prominent journalist.
‘I’m very much aware that I’m the first [with moko kauae] to anchor a six o’clock primetime news bulletin.’ she said.
New Zealand’s foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta (pictured) also has a moko kauae, becoming the first female MP to wear one in parliament
‘That is always at the back of my mind, that every step I make is like breaking through a glass ceiling.
‘It’s breaking new ground for us as Māori, but also for people of colour. Whether you’ve got a moko kauae or not.’
New Zealand’s foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta also has a moko kauae, becoming the first female MP to wear one in parliament.
The politician has links to Māori royalty, with her father the adopted son of King Korokī.
She got the tattoo in 2016 and said it offers ‘positive ways to enable cultural expression and pride in being Māori.
What is Tā moko and why is it so important for Māori people?
Tā moko is the traditional tattooing practised used in New Zealand by Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand.
It is carried out by Tohunga-tā-moko, or tattooists, who are considered sacred or ‘tapu’ in Māori culture.
Called a ‘visual language’, ta moko was and is still used for a variety of reasons, including courtship, implying status and marking the important milestone of moving from childhood to adulthood.
The specific symbols usually tell the story of the wearer’s background and family.
As well as signalling rank, it was used in traditional times to make a Maori more attractive to the opposite sex.
Ta Moko was worn by both sexes, and was traditionally applied to the face and buttocks of men, and to the chin, lips and shoulders of women.
Moko kauae refers to the tattoos on the chin and lips.
There were no set patterns and the meaning of the ta moko was dependent on its placement on the face, with the left signifying the father’s history and the right side the mother’s history.
Traditionally, the skin was chiselled rather than inked, leaving grooves from an albatross bone with pigment dye to make the patterns.
Now, needle tattooing is more common but there are still some Tohunga-tā-moko who use the traditional method.