Oriini Kaipara, New Zealand’s first prime time presenter with a Maori facial tattoo
The journalist Oriini Kaipara has made New Zealand television history by becoming the first person with Maori facial tattoos to present the news in prime time. “It’s a great honor. I don’t know how to deal with emotions,” she told cnn after that first appearance that has gone around the world.
Kaipara, 38, works for national channel Three and is one of the bulletin’s permanent presenters Newshub Live which airs at 4:30 p.m. On Christmas Day she debuted as presenter of the 6:00 p.m. edition, which is the one with the largest audience. “I was really elated. I was over the moon.”commented to cnn about the moment he found out he would be covering the show.
The tattoo that appears on the face is called moko kauae and is part of the Maori tradition, the indigenous people of New Zealand. These types of tattoos are made in different parts of Polynesia and in their origins they marked the passage from childhood to adulthood. Additionally, they are hugely symbolic and unique to each person, as they contain information about their ancestry and family history. Women get it on their chin and chin, while those on men, whose tattoos are known as mataorathey take up a large part of the face.
With colonization the indigenous people began to abandon this tradition, partly due to the discrimination they suffered when wearing them. However, since the 90s, many descendants of Maori decided to recover these symbols to reclaim and give visibility to the traditions of their people.
In 2017, Kaipara confirmed, thanks to the Maori television program Native Affairs, which has essentially pure Maori DNA. So, received his moko kauae in 2019when he worked at TVNZ, and became the first person to present the news wearing a facial tattoo.
According to cnnhis decision to receive it was personal, “to remind her of her power and identity as a Maori woman”. “When I doubt myself and see my reflection in the mirror, I don’t just see myself. I’m seeing my grandmother and my mother, and my daughters, and her daughters who will come after me; as well as all the others.” Maori women and girls. That empowers me,” she said.
His appearance on primetime news generated many positive comments, but also some negative reactions. One of the reasons, according to local media, is that Kaipara often uses Maori expressions such as “E haere ake nei” (yet to come), “Ū tonu mai” (stay with us) and “Taihoa e haere” (don’t leave yet), something that does not please all viewers.
In this sense, the journalist alleged that the Maori language is very important to her and her goal is to encourage people to speak the language that was “eliminated in my grandmother’s generation.” “Still we have not addressed many intergenerational traumas about colonization and for Māori that is very, very relevant and moving,” he said.
The Maori community represents around 17% of the population of New Zealand, according to data published in June 2021 by the country’s government, and even today the fact of wearing their moko can cause them to be discriminated against. For example, until 2019, the Air New Zealand company did not accept workers with this type of tattoo.
However, in recent years they have gained visibility and have references in positions of power, as is the case of Nanaia Mahuta. In 2016 she was the first parliamentarian to wear a moko kauae and in November 2020 she broke another barrier by being named foreign ministerbeing the first Maori to achieve this.
For that reason, Kaipara sees her work on national television as a sign that times are changing and hopes young Māori girls will be inspired by her story. “For a long time, our people, our ancestors, our tipuna (the ancestors) and we now, have worked to get to where we are. As a young woman, as a young Māori woman, what you do today influences and affects what happens tomorrow. so everything What I ask is that you see the beauty of being Maoriaccept and recognize it and do what they can to be the positive change.
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