Tahlia Tahuri

Updated: Apr 4

Tērā te haeata e tākiri ana ki runga i a Rangiuru, ki runga o Ngongotahā e tū panepane rā,

Ka whitingia tōna auheke e ngā hihi o Tama,

Ka tae rā anō ki ngā wai o Kaituna, o Utuhina e karekare rā.

Ka whakaterea taku waka o Te Arawa,

E ngā iwi o Tapuika, o Ngāti Whakaue,

Ka kōtahi atu ai tōna tauihu ki te marae o Mokotangatakōtahi,

ko te takere nui ki te Papa-i-ō-uru,

Ko Ngāti Moko, ko Ngāti Tūnohopu tēnei e mihi atu ana,

I te marama o Poutūterangi, 2019 i whakawhiwhia e au tōku moko kauae.

Ko te kaitā, he whanaunga, he hoa tata kia māua ko tōku whānau, ko Te Wehi Preston tōna ingoa.

He uri ia nō roto o Ngai Tūhoe, nō Te Arawa anō hoki.

Ki ahau mēna rā he tangata e whai kaha ana i tō ao Māori, i tō whakapapa Māori, ā, he hiahia nōu ki te whakamana i tō ao Māori, ae me mau moko kauae ka tika.

31 ngā tau i te wā i tāngia tōku kauae ki te moko.

Engari i ahau e taiohi ana, i kōhine noa iho taku pakeke i te wā tuatahi i hiahia ahau kia mau moko kauae.


Engari, nā ngā whakapono a te Paipera Tapu a tōku kuia, nā te tukuihotanga Pākehā o tōku koroua kaore rā i whakaae ki a mau moko ahau.

Ahakoa kirituhi, ahakoa Moko Kauae.

Pēhea nei te wāhine e mōhio ana kua rite ā-wairua, ā-hinengaro ia ki te mau moko kauae?

Mēnā ko tērā noa iho te mea kai wōna whakaaro, mēnā kua tīmata tana tā ā-hinengaro i te āhua o te moko kauae, mēnā e moemoeā ana te wāhine mō te mau moko kauae, kua rite ia kia wānangahia ngā āhuatanga o te mau moko kauae. Me wānangahia i te tuatahi nōtemea he mea nui te mau moko kauae. He kaupapa nui i te mea he taumaha te kawe i tēnei momo. He mea ka mau ki a koe mō te ake, ake. Ki te kore e tutuki i tēneki nei wāhanga, arā, te wānanga ahakoa ki tō whānau ake, tō hapu, tō iwi, tō hapori, tēra pea kaore i te tino rite te wahine. Me whakapono hoki ia ki a ia anō, ki tōna ao Māori hoki.


Ko wai ahau, ki te mau moko kauae?

He uri tēnei ka heke i ngā kāwai rangatira, nā te waka o Te Arawa. Mai i te tauihu, te takere nui me te taurapa o te waka. He uri nō Te Porokaiwhiria (Tapuika/Ngāti Whakaue), he uri nō Wī Keepa Te Rangipuawhe (Tūhourangi), he uri ahau nō Rāwharetua (Tūwharetoa/Raukawa), he uri ahau nō Heta Te Haara (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Rangi).

Nā tōku kohungahungatanga, i ako i te reo Māori, i ako i wōku tātai whakapapa.

I tupu ki runga i wōku marae. Nā wōku kaumatua au i poipoi, ahakoa he Pākehā kē tōku koroua.

Nō reira ko wai ahau ki te mau moko kauae? He wāhine mōhio pū ki tōku ao Māori, he wāhine e matua mārama ana ki wōku hekenga whakapapa, he wāhine kōrero i te reo Māori, he wāhine whai kawa, whai tikanga hoki. He waimarie ahau, he Māori ahau e noho ana ki tōku ao Māori.

Ki roto o Te Arawa, ki Rotorua he nui ngā tūruhi. He wāhi rongonui a Rotorua mō ngā mahi whakarekareka i te tūruhi. He mea kua kitea e au, ina puta mātau ko tōku whānau ki ngā wāhi o te taone nei, ka kite te tūruhi i ahau e mau ana i tōku moko kauae ka kaha tiro whetē mai ki ahau, me taku mōhio he mea ohorere kia rātau. Engari mō te hunga kāinga, kua tuku mihi whakamānawa mai ki ahau. Ehara i te mea kua wheke mai tētehi ki a au nā te moko kauae te take.

I was 31 years old when I received my Moko Kauae, I have always wanted to wear it.

Ever since I was a young girl I'd use a felt to draw basic shapes on my chin.

My Nan would growl me and ask why I want that, I would always say because “it’s Māori”.

Her reply would always be, “God didn’t make you that way.”

A woman strong in her faith, she made sure I knew Māori and who I was, where I was from but she held strong to her bible.


In my personal opinion, for someone to qualify to receive her moko kauae she should be knowledgeable in her whakapapa and have a Māori outlook on the world.

There is no point the wearer having a Moko Kauae when their beliefs are not Māori.

To me, they don’t have to know the language fluently or even hold a conversation but they must know who they are and what it takes to be Māori.


A wahine knows when she is ready, if she is strong in her ao Māori, she understand that wearing Moko Kauae comes with tasks, trials and tribulations.

She understands that some people will turn on her, some will empower her up but she will always remain humble in knowing her identity. Then, she is ready.

Who am I to wear Moko Kauae?

I descend from a line of chiefs across all of Te Arawa, from the bow of the canoe, to the great hull, to the stern of the waka. Te Porokaiwhiria, Wī Keepa Te Rangipuawhe, Heta Te Haara (Ngā Puhi), are all chiefs of their hapu/iwi.

From birth I was spoken Māori to, I learnt Te Reo Māori, I have learnt my whakapapa. I was raised on my many marae. I am a woman who has been taught in the Māori realm and continue to learn this way. I am blessed and grateful to be given this taonga to wear forever more.

People have said, “it’s like it has always been there” “you suit it, it suits you” etc.

One thing I find hilarious is tourist.

As everyone knows, Rotorua is famous for its tourist attractions.

When I’m out and about in public my whānau and I will quite often catch tourist staring at me and we start talking about it in Māori so the tourist don’t understand us.

Tahlia Tahuri | Kaitā: Te Wehi Preston

© 2019, Twisted Treaty Portraits

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