Maori newsreader becomes first person with chin tattoo to anchor news programme

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A New Zealand reporter has made history by becoming the first person to present a prime time news programme with a traditional Māori chin tattoo.

​Oriini Kaipara, who has a moko kauae, presented on Newshub Live at 6pm this week, starting Christmas, in place of usual hosts. 

She said the opportunity made a lifelong dream come true and hoped she was the first of many Māori women to present the news with their traditional tattoos on show. 

“I’m very much aware that I’m the first [with moko kauae] to anchor a six o’clock primetime news bulletin,” she told local media. 

“That is always at the back of my mind, that every step I make is like breaking through a glass ceiling… It’s breaking new ground for us as Māori, but also for people of colour. Whether you’ve got a moko kauae or not.”

Ms Kaipara first hit the headlines in November 2019, when she filled in on TVNZ’s noon bulletin.

She has previously worked on TVNZ’s te reo news show Te Karere, on Māori Television and broadcasting with Mai FM.

In 2017, Ms Kaipara took a DNA test which found she was effectively 100 per cent Māori, with 98 per cent Māori ancestry confirmed and the remaining 2 per cent unclear.

At the time she wrote “being Māori is so much more than blood quantum”.

“In New Zealand, many believed there are no full-blood Māori left. It’s often been used by critics of Māori who seek equal rights and sovereignty. My results, at least, show there is one full-blooded Māori contrary to that belief. 

“I believe there are more full-blooded Māori, they just haven’t done a DNA test. For me, being Māori is a way of life. I was born and bred in a Māori world where reo (language) and tikanga (traditions) were embedded in us.”

Ms Kaipara is bilingual and of Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Rangitihi descent.

Māori tattooing or Tā moko is used to represent the wearer’s family heritage and social status. It is a rite of passage for Māori women, marking the transition between girl and adulthood, and symbolises the personal process. 

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