New Zealand Maori angry over US tattoo kit

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Zealand Māori leaders have said that they will try to get a Maori temporary tattoo kit from the Los Angeles store Halloween Town withdrawn from sale, as they find it insulting to the Māori culture.

The Halloween Town, a store that specializes in Halloween costumes and accessories, is selling the tattoo kit for NZ$16. The store's website features a photograph of a full facial Tā moko (Māori tattoo) instead of their usual caricatures.

Aroha Mead, Victoria University of Wellington Māori business lecturer said that the Tā moko is not frightening, "And he doesn't look scary to me – he looks quite handsome,", but added "There didn't appear to be much that Māori could do. No-one likes to see their culture being denigrated but we are aware that the moko is in the public domain."

Rotorua acedmic Ngahihi o te ra Bidois, who has a full facial moko, has asked the Halloween Town store to remove the tattoo kits. "It is insulting ... what they are doing is not portraying Māori correctly," Bidois said.

A full-face moko is traditionally restricted to male Māori and is used to represent mana (prestige).