Mum’s decision to get moko for her children

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Mum’s decision to get moko for her children

When Arohanui Vause recently decided to adorn her face with her moko, she encountered many moments of doubts and anxiety. The choice came down to her children’s future and their ability to grow up Māori. She talks to Philippa Mannagh about her journey.

“Some of my greatest fears were concerning career progression, employment opportunities and family acceptance. But how would I explain this to my children?
“How would I be able to tell them that in 15, 20, 30 years’ time they will have to trample a path that has now become more overgrown and difficult to navigate.
“How would I apologise for not doing my part in clearing this path? For leaving it up to them,” she says.

Aroha (30) and her husband Rahu live in Peria which lies south of Taipa and east of Kaitaia.
Aroha is a secondary school teacher and mother of two children, Aramia (9) and Ihaka (2). She is of Ngapuhi, Te Rrawa, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngai Te Rangi descent.

“My children and the world they grow up in is really important to me. My children have no doubt about their culture and their heritage, they will grow up as Māori. How they are able to grow up as Māori in this word is my responsibility and is the reason why I chose to adorn my face with my culture,” she says.

“Moko is now normal for my children and my family. I have a moko kauae, my sister before me received her moko kauae along with my cousin, and my aunty before them. The generational transfer has been revived in my family and I am proud to be part of that.”

Moko is a taonga tukuiho, a treasure that has been transferred from generation to generation.  “When Aotearoa was colonised, when our tohunga (experts) were banned by law to stop their cultural practices, our taonga tukuiho were greatly impacted on and almost lost. But we are a resilient and adaptable people and I am proud to be Māori, and I am honoured to celebrate  Māoridom in such a way.”

She recalls the feeling of getting her moko kauae at Te Rarawa Marae in Kaitaia as part of the Moko Ora Wananga in April.

“I was surrounded by my family who supported and loved me unconditionally. I was immersed in Māori song and Māori culture, my thoughts drifted to my family, those here and those who are now only with us in spirit.
“When I arose a little over 40 minutes later, I was embraced by my whānau and many hongi ensued, the transfer of mauri (life force).”

Raniera “Danz” McGrath of Moko Kauri Ta Moko was chosen as Aroha’s Moko Artist because of his strong connection with her whānau.

“Moko is one of the most personal decisions a person will make.  I can only speak for myself, my support system became my backbone.
“Exposure was also a critical part of my journey. Exposing my children to moko through the attendance of my sister and cousins’ moko ceremony enabled them and myself to process the change and the cultural significance of it,” Aroha says.