A few months ago I had the wonderful priviledge of travelling down to Taranaki to document Te Waka getting her moko kauae. It was such an honour to be present here, and to journey the next day up the slopes of Mt Taranaki for some more images. I asked Te Waka if she would write a little something about the experience for her, and her words are below. Thankyou my friend x


“Tenei te pō, nau mai te ao. A journey of life, a journey of death.

Over the past 6 years I have been conversing with my friends and whanau about having my kauae tehe done, conversations that were full of fear, misunderstanding and the unknown.

After many discussions I came to a sense of hope, understanding, enlightenment and freedom. For me wearing this kauae tehe represents the past, present and future, a tradition that once was normal for us as māori. This is a beautiful symbol, a pre-eminent stamp of who I am and who I will become. Lost but now found.

It has been an invitation for people to speak māori and people who I connect with will now say ‘Kia Ora’, words that bring life, a new life I have felt since the day I lay on the table. This table, placed in a whare at Wahapakapaka once belonged to my mum. Here she worked her healing hands on whoever lay on it, and here I came into a new way of knowing and a new way of being, on this ancient pā site in Ngāti Mutunga, the place my ancestors once called home.”