Kirituhi

part of the reason i came to new zealand was because i'm very interested in maori culture, especially ta moko- the traditional form of maori tattooing.

i've always respected the deep cultural symbolism of the moko and understood that it's definitely not something for the paheka (white face!) to appropriate. the moko is tied to one's genealogy and family story and filled with intricate symbols and hidden meanings that the paheka can't even begin to understand and appreciate.

the idea of the kirituhi is new to me, though. kirituhi is "skin art:" the use of maori motifs without the whakapapa (geneology and family) of the traditional moko.

on the one hand, i find the moko and maori designs incredibly beautiful and the idea that i could use them on my body without the offensiveness of stealing the sacred moko is incredibly appealing. on the other hand, i feel like kirituhi is a way of being "respectful" about cultural appropriation.

obviously the kirituhi would be nowhere near as meaningful as the moko is for the maori. i feel like it would be a beautiful piece of art on my skin and remind me for the rest of my life of this experience in a country that i have fallen instantly in love with.

there's a very respected shop here in town that does ta moko in the traditional way, as well as specially designed kirituhi. i am almost afraid to go in and talk to them about it- i feel like even though they do kirituhi i will still be coming across as an entitled paheka that has no idea about the cultural significance and sacred nature of the moko.

should i go into the shop and ask questions about the modern ta moko and kirituhi? should i ask what they think about westerners using maori designs? or should i just leave it alone and admire the ta moko for what it is?

View Thinker #2d042c's profile

If it's something you really love, it's definitely at least worth asking about.

View Thinker #6b1237's profile

This is a very cool thought. I'd like to see more like it, especially about New Zealand and its culture. It's always fascinated me.

Log In to Leave Comment