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New Zealand news anchor’s face tattoo honors her Maori heritage

“It represents the Maori language. Ultimately, that’s why it’s sitting right on my mouth.”
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 3:10 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2022 at 4:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Christmas Day, veteran New Zealand journalist Oriini Kaipara made history. She is her country’s first news anchor to host a national primetime broadcast sporting ancestral markings on her face.

“I love my moko. I love my culture,” she said.

The chin tattoo isn’t a publicity stunt. The intricate ink tells her family’s story.

“It represents the Maori language. Ultimately, that’s why it’s sitting right on my mouth. That’s why I speak Maori. It’s a reminder,” she said.

Kaipara got the facial markings three years ago, and debuted them on Maori news. Now she’s on the national broadcasts that reach an audience of about a million households.

“It never ever crossed my mind about what would having a moko kauae do to my employment opportunities,” she said. “I did have reservations about how the public would react to me being onscreen in every home across the country.”

She also has traditional body tattoos, and she delivers her reports bilingually, adding her native tongue to the stories she tells.

“My first language is Maori, and my purpose in life is to help revitalize Maori language, which is still listed as an endangered language,” she said.

The reaction across New Zealand has been very positive and her story has gone global.

“It’s really overwhelming,” she said.

Kaipara hopes to inspire others in her country to celebrate their roots.

“It’s not something that should be vanished back to the history books. No! Absolutely not! We exist and we exist because we’re Maori. Pure and simple,” she said.

Kaipara wears her facial tattoo with pride because it so much more than just art and ink.

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