Is it time to depart from the stencil moko?

By Tema Hemi

It's becoming a common sight: kapa haka performers with traditional Māori moko taking to the Te Matatini stage. But is it time to depart from the drawn-on moko?  

Some promoters of the art are optimistic a full team of moko wearers will one day take to the stage. 

Te Arawa descendant Hohua Mohi says, "At present it's our youth that are really passionate about tā moko. The thing I like is that our youth are wearing it with pride, both female and male.  I think also that if that's the attitude going into the future you will see a lot more of our people wearing the moko." 

Ngāti Konohi descendant Te Hamua Nikora says, "I prefer the real moko and if it's in the skin that's even better- but for some they are apprehensive and worried so they have draw-ons with vivid."

Promoters of the art are hopeful about one day seeing a entire group with the traditional facial tattoo. 

Mohi says, "That's a great objective and a beautiful one at that.  There is one tribe I feel that is close to achieving that and that is the people of the East Coast.  Te Whānau-ā-Apanui.  Those people who have for a long time been committed to its revival."

Nikora says, "If I was judging I would award that team top marks in the Kākahu section.  If there was a group and each and every one wore a facial tattoo that would be absolutely awesome!"