The whakapapa (genealogy) of Mihi Kōtukutuku Stirling (Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Porou) was so distinguished that she was deemed too tapu (sacred) to be tattooed. During her adolescent years some tohunga tā moko (tattooing experts) from Te Arawa arrived on the East Coast to tattoo chosen girls with moko kauae (chin and mouth tattoos). The tohunga refused to operate on Mihi Kōtukutuku due to the degree of tapu that would be associated with spilling her blood.
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Private collection, Stirling whānau
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