Yvonne Haenga-Ashby

Ko Hikurangi te Maunga

Ko Waiapu te Awa

Ko Ngati Porou te Iwi

Ko Horouta te Waka

Ko Rahui te Marae

Ko te Whānau a Pokai te Hapu

No Tikitiki Ahau

Ko Chris Lima Haenga raua ko Kathleen Tibble oku matua

Ko Hamiora Ashby taku Tane

Ko Oracle-Rose Haenga-Ashby taku Tamāhine

Ko Yvonne Haenga-Ashby Ahau


Before I received Hine Ngakau, I thought that only woman that did amazing things in life qualified them to receive Moko Kauae and so I lived my life to be worthy of receiving her. I raised my own daughter while mothering children that others couldn’t or wouldn’t. I contributed to Whānau, Hapu and Iwi.

One of the biggest barriers for me getting my Moko Kauae was the misunderstanding that only those fluent in Te Reo can wear Moko which I now know it is not true. I have always wanted to wear her, but it wasn’t until after my father died, that I got the inner courage to step up to whānau and tell them that I was going to receive my Moko Kauae. My response to whānau that asked me why I wear her – Do you know who I am? What qualifies a person to wear Moko Kauae is simply having enough mana to step up and receive her. What is mana? It is knowing who you are and where you come from. Joni Brooking bought Hine Ngakau to the surface in April 2019 when I was 32 years old. We were told by our Aunty April Papuni (who received hers at the same time) that we were the first Wahine in Te Riu o Waiapu to receive our Moko Kauae at a Mokopapa for many generations. This to me felt like a privilege to be a part of. A wahine is ready only when she is ready.



Even on the day I received Hine Ngakau I still was questioning whether I was making the right choice. My Father was always supportive of my choice to receive but my Mother’s view was opposite, and she wasn’t ready. Her own views were starting to cloud my judgement but as I lay on the table, I opened my eyes upon completion and my Mother was standing beside me. I wanted to grow old with Hine Ngakau and her be on my journey with me. Having my Daughter and nieces apart of the Mokopapa was important to me because I wanted them to learn and understand that they too have the right as Māori Wahine to be able to wear their Moko Kauae when they are ready to.


The biggest fear for me was the expectation people may have on me to become that ‘token Maori’ in gatherings. The one that does the karakia, the mihi, the waiata- expecting me to be fluent in Te Reo and challenging me because I am not. But this was far from reality. I returned to my whānau and workplace where everyone was very supportive of me. They just kept saying that they didn’t notice her because it was like she was always on my face. No one judges me for my lack of Reo fluency but its challenging myself to seek it.


I love having Hine Ngakau in the light as she has healed my heart and soul. I have been on a great journey in which I call life. I am a Kaitiaki of our next generation and so I would like to be that person that they look up to and know they don’t have to be perfect to carry on our whakapapa, our taonga and our purakau. I am a Harti Nati Māori Wahine from Ngāti Porou, where Mana Wāhine runs in our veins.


Yvonne Haenga-Ashby

Kaitā: Joni Brooking





© 2019, Twisted Treaty Portraits

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