Taia o moko hei hoa matenga mou “Take your moko as a friend for life”. Ta MokoThe origins of tamoko come from Rangi and Papa through one of their offspring called Ruaumoko who is seen as the god of earthquakes, volcanoes and subterranean activity.
Tamoko is a name for Maori tattoo and the culture that surrounds it. It is a reflection of whakapapa (geneology) and history. It symbolises Maori identity and marks in time ones journey in life.
Ta MokoThere has been a huge revival of traditional Maori tamoko and other Maori cultural traditions. The beauty of Ta Moko is becoming well known around the world and that it is something specifically 'Maori'.
A lot of non-Maori people are getting moko designs on their faces as well as other parts of their body, many of which have improper significance. Robbie Williams and Mike Tyson have gotten Maori moko much to the annoyance of many Maori.
Maori 'tamoko' has been practiced for over a thousand years, and has not only withstood time but also colonization by Europeans. Maori are the original inhabitants of Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud) now known as New Zealand.
Tamoko was used as a form of identification, rank, genealogy, tribal history, eligibility to marry, and marks of beauty or ferocity and much more.
Traditional tamoko weren't merely tattooed upon their wearers; they were finely chiseled into the skin. The art preceded wood carvings, so accordingly the first of these wood carvings copied moko designs. Tamoko by women and men are most recognizably done on the face, although other parts of the body are also marked.
The choosing of the design is not, however, an easy process. Unlike getting a mundane tattoo now, Maori tamoko took months of approval and planning on the part of the elders and other family members. First the elders decided whether one was worthy of receiving a moko. One of the questions they need answered with an unwavering yes was: "are they committed to wearing their tribal identity on their body for the rest of their life?" Then the design process would begin by taking into account the tribal history, which was the most important component of the moko.
However, the majority of people who are using Moko inspired designs don’t take the time to learn anything about its origins or significance. It is understandable why some Maori are offended by the use of bits and pieces of their culture. Wouldn't you be upset too if someone copied something uniquely yours without your permission, didn’t know anything about its origin, and didn’t use it in the appropriate manner?
Maori people will continue their efforts to keep this beautiful and interesting cultural art alive, the rest of the world can come to respect this sacred cultural ritual, and the two can come to an agreement about its use in today’s society.
Process for receiving Ta Moko
The first stage in receiving tamoko is the basic desire. It can take years to reach a decision about when, where on your body and from whom to receive tamoko. After you have been gifted these insights the next step is to get in touch with the ta moko artist. We find this usually happens via the e-mail, from our website www.tahaa.co.nz, over the phone or in person. From here you can start having a conversation about your desires for your tamoko and what you want represented in it, whether it be whakapapa, dreams and aspirations, stories or all of it. We are happy for you to send us your information by e-mail before our initial meeting. However some people prefer to talk in person with the artist.
After establishing contact with us and having a korero about what you want your tamoko to represent, the next stage is the design of your piece. This usually takes place after the korero and directly before the application (that is ink going into skin). The design is drawn directly onto the skin in pen before proceeding straight to the application stage. Some people ask that the design be drawn before the scheduled appointment for getting their tamoko. However we prefer this to happen when you come to receive your tamoko as it is easier to determine how a design will work and flow with your natural body shape if we can draw it straight onto the area.
So with your design drawn on in pen, we have a karakia to start the session and then get straight into it. We also finish with a karakia to complete the work.
The legal age to receive tamoko is 18 years old. We do have a provision for people younger than this who wish to receive tamoko. The person needs to have the consent of their parents or legal guardians. A consent form is supplied to all recipients to be signed by the appropriate parts before any work is to commence.
We charge $120 per hour. This includes consultation, design and application of your work. Therefore, the price is usually determined depending on the size of the piece (and the body part receiving it), and the detail within. These variables make it difficult to determine the actual cost of the work beforehand, but we can quote ‘ballparks’.
If we have organised to travel to you then we also include this travel time and the cost of gas there and back into the price.
We receive quite a few requests for design of tamoko – as in drawing up of a design only, for another tamoko / tattoo artist to apply to the skin. We appreciate that people respect our work and may not be able to travel to us to receive their tamoko, however, it is our policy to apply all the work we design. This is to do mostly with artist integrity. You cannot trust that someone else will execute your designs as you would have them executed. Therefore, please do not be offended if we turn down your request for a design piece, based on this policy.
Our Tamoko Studio
We are based in Whitianga in the Coromandel and operate from our home studio. We are about a two and a half hour trip from Hamilton or Auckland. So although it is a bit of a journey to get here initially, it is worth the trip. Whitianga is a beautiful place for sure.