Team Talk: ​ Paitangi Ostick - Moko Kauae, A resurgence.


Moko kauae is not something to take lightly. Like or not, if you wear the Taonga you are not only an ambassador for your whānau, hapū and iwi, but for  all of Te Ao Māori.


As wāhine, I feel there is an age where we become invisible; our beauty is waning, our children have gone, and our sense of purpose and diminished responsibilities can leave us in a kind of limbo. For many, this leads to a resurgence of self, manifesting as a yearning to return home and learn about who we are and where we are from. Unfortunately for some, this focus on the 'self' can often be viewed as selfishness - life and societal norms have a way of blocking our growth as Māori and more importantly, as Māori women. However this must be tempered with the understanding that while we have responsibilities to whānau, hapū and iwi, we also have responsibilities to ourselves. As nurturers we must remember that unless our own needs are met, we will have nothing left to offer the world.

I always find it incredibly humbling to be approached to do this work. The mental and physical preparation is intense and I need to be fully focused. It’s a big responsibility to mark someone's face . It’s tapu. Especially if the design has belonged to the whanaunga of the wāhine , or if they are taking the āhua of their tūpuna. It needs to be correct. I know within myself, if things do not sit right, I’m not able to do it.


The consultation process is equally important and not all have the resilience or the  right intentions  for wearing  moko kauae. I had a girl come in and say to me, “ I want one of those” , and pointed to my chin. I asked her, “why do you want it?”   She answered, ”It will make me look beautiful”. My response was, “I have no doubt it will make you beautiful but maybe this is not the best reason for you to get it ".

Another wāhine wanted one and she said to me,“But I don’t know if I am worthy” and then she cried. Her husband stepped in and said, “Let me tell you about my wife”.  He proceeded to tell me about all the selfless things she had done in her life. She totally gives all of herself to everyone that needs her and so, of course, I did her moko kauae.


When I sit these women up after I have given them this Taonga, I see a rebirth. I feel that I am looking at a completely new wāhine. She has a strength and a presence. She stands a little taller and prouder. Her āhua has been recharged. Invigorated. She is now battle ready.