Story: Tā moko – Māori tattooing

Mihi Kōtukutuku

Mihi Kōtukutuku

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 tohungamoko (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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How to cite this page:

Rawinia Higgins, 'Tā moko – Māori tattooing - Moko and status', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 April 2024)

Story by Rawinia Higgins, published 5 Sep 2013