Māori News Anchor Makes History as First Primetime Journalist With Moko Kauae Face Tattoo
Long-held traditions of Indigenous cultures have historically been relegated to the background—or completely lost—as the globalized world has assimilated to Western culture. But Māori journalist Oriini Kaipara has spent her entire career dedicated to the representation and revitalization of the customs native to her own heritage. The 37-year-old Newshub anchor achieved her own lifelong dreams and made history back in 2019 when she became the first woman in the world to anchor a mainstream television program while bearing a moko kauae—a traditional chin tattoo commonly worn by Māori women. And Kaipara recently made history once more in 2021 when she became the first person ever to present a primetime news bulletin while proudly wearing such a cultural emblem.
Kaipara got the tattoo in 2017 after receiving the results of a DNA test that proved she is 100 percent Māori. Since first debuting her moko kauae on live TV, the award-winning journalist has appeared as a presenter on Newshub Live in the 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. time slots. But during the last week of December, she was asked to fill in for the usual hosts of the 6 p.m. news, Sam Hayes and Mike McRoberts.
“I’m very much aware that I’m the first [with moko kauae] to anchor a six o’clock primetime news bulletin,” Kaipara explains. “That is always at the back of my mind, that every step I make is like breaking through a glass ceiling. It’s breaking new ground for us as Māori, but also for people of color. Whether you’ve got a moko kauae or not.”
Seeing Kaipara in such a position has been an inspiration for many people of Māori descent. One Twitter user noted how seeing the trailblazing journalist in the 6 p.m. time slot is something she “could only dream about as a little girl of Māori and Pākehā descent in the 1980s.” For Kaipara, seeing the impact that she has made in the world has been a humbling motivator to keep moving forward. In fact, she hopes that her own success can inspire others like her to chase their dreams and embrace their culture rather than hide it.
“I’ve been realizing for a while that it’s much bigger than just reading the news, or doing stories that matter to all of us,” Kaipara says. “It’s also a big win for this generation and the next 10 generations—don’t let identity or your culture hold you back from anything. In fact, you use it as your power, to be greater and do great things for everyone.”