Moko Kauae:

A Māori Women’s Right

Over the past few days I have been watching from afar the debate raging over moko kauae and who does or does not have the right to wear this taonga that has been gifted to us by our tupuna. I have been honoured to carry moko kauae for 17 years after being guided and supported by wahine of Taranaki. I remember the first time Mahinekura Reinfelds visited with me and said that it was time. My initial avoidance response was ‘time for what?’ which she ignored and continued to say “It will be in the summer”.

Mahinekura was clear, that to carry moko kauae is the right of all wahine Māori. It is our whakapapa kōrero that we carry visually within the world. It is our affirmation of our whānau, hapū and iwi. It is our right as wahine Māori to wear Moko Kauae and it is our decision to make. For many this decision is made in the context of whānau, hapū or iwi, for others it is a decision made in line with our fundamental right to wear the symbols of our ancestors.

Link to article: Leonie Pihama (2018): Moko Kauae: A Māori Women’s Right (kaupapamaori.com)


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