Moko artist Joni Brooking of Ngāti Porou, has bestowed the taonga of moko kauae to many wāhine Māori. As a practitioner and someone who also wears moko kauae, she speaks with Te Ao Māori news about false stereotypes and normalising moko.
Brooking says part of the process of public demonstration of tāmoko is, "To show this taonga to the multitudes, to let them see it's not just art but it's a treasured taonga to Māori."
Before embracing moko kauae, Brooking says one must prepare for all outcomes including feedback from the ignorant and uninformed.
"It's not an easy path, because beyond your own house are the thoughts of others, some that are positive, and others that are negative", says Brooking.
Joni Brooking has always longed to become a moko kauae practitioner however she lends her hand to the many art forms of moko. She says there are many who have misunderstanding around the principles of wearing facial moko.
"To some, one must attain a high level of fluency in Māori language, one must be an orator on the marae, or conduct the traditional calling duties held by women, but the most important pre-requisite for receiving a facial moko, whether it's moko kauae or mataora, is having Māori bloodlines", says Brooking.
As an experienced practitioner of moko, Joni Brooking has completed numerous moko kauae.
“They're strong, incredibly strong women who wear moko kauae because it's a big deal, that's the first thing the world sees is the face, so yes, I commend those who wear moko kauae and mataora", says Brooking.
A traditional Māori taonga passed down over generations from ancestress Niwareka, the moko kauae lives on through Māori blood.