Political Bullsh!t

New Zealand journalist becomes the first person with a Māori face tattoo to present primetime news

“I was really elated. I was over the moon,” Kaipara told CNN about the moment she found out she would cover the primetime slot. “It’s a huge honor. I don’t know how to deal with the emotions.”

The facial markings represent a tradition of the Māori people, who are the Indigenous people of land that is now New Zealand. The markings are called moko kauae—women are tattooed on the chin, and men’s markings are known as mataora and cover most of the face, according to CNN.

Kaipara got her tattoo in January 2019. She told CNN it was a personal decision to remind her of her power and identity as a Māori woman.

“When I doubt myself, and I see my reflection in the mirror, I’m not just looking at myself,” Kaipara told CNN. “I’m looking at my grandmother and my mother, and my daughters, and hers to come after me, as well as all the other women, Māori girls out there and it empowers me.”

The tattoo process is called Tā moko and marks the passage between girlhood and adulthood. It represents family heritage and social status. Kaipara decided to get it after discovering she was 100% Māori through a DNA test in 2017.

Kaipara has received both positive and negative reactions to her achievement, especially due to her use of Māori phrases such as “E haere ake nei” (still to come), “Ū tonu mai” (stay with us) and “Taihoa e haere” (don’t go just yet).

She told CNN that her ultimate goal is to encourage people to speak the language that was “beaten out of my grandmother’s generation” and reclaim it for Māori people.

“We still haven’t addressed a lot of intergenerational traumas and colonization and for Maori, that’s very, very pertinent and poignant as well,” Kaipara said. “Not much in terms of race relations here has changed in a very long time.”

She also hopes that young Māori girls will take inspiration from her story and see it as a sign that times are changing.

“For a long time our people, our ancestors, our tipuna, and us now, have done so much work to get to where we are,” Kaipara told CNN. “As a young woman, as a young Māori, what you do today influences and affects what happens tomorrow. So all I ask is that they see the beauty in being Māori and they embrace it and acknowledge that and do what they can with it for positive change.”

Kaipara is not the first person to make headlines for having moko kauae. New Zealand’s foreign minister, Nanaia Mahuta, also has moko kauae and has made history as the first female MP to have one in parliament.

Congratulations to Kaipara on her achievement, and may we continue to see Indigenous representation increase worldwide!

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