Indigenous Ink

4- Mitai

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I went to a Maori dinner performance tonight at the Mitai village, and learned a few things about the native culture of New Zealand. What was most fascinating to me was the significance of their tattoos. They hold four birds very sacred, the (I can’t remember), parrot, owl and kiwi bird. The (I can’t remember) gets tattooed on the forehead, the parrot beak which represents good speaking goes on the nose, and designs of the resident kiwi bird on the cheeks. The women wear the owl on their chin. Tattooing your face is highly prestigious, and exhibits knowledge and status, something one would work very hard to earn. Years ago, such tattoos were engraved on the skin with chisels. If someone from the tribe couldn’t handle the physical pain of getting these tattoos, then they did not deserve to possess them. Interestingly enough, if anyone outside the indigenous culture gets a Maori tattoo, the native tribe finds this a huge honor. You just better understand what it means.

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