Mobile Unit. Mrs Morehu on tattooing, Rotorua

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Tono kōrero mai

Mrs Morehu is interviewed in Rotorua by Mr Thomas about ta moko (traditional Māori tattoos). She speaks in Te Reo Māori, with Mr Henry Vercoe translating.

The interview begins with Mrs Morehu explaining the significance of the design of her lip and chin moko. She says families have their own patterns which are passed down. Her great-grandmother was tattooed and the design was handed down to her descendents.

She then speaks about the method of tattooing - with the pattern being set out on the chin first, then a sharp instrument similar to a knife is used to beat the pattern in, using a small weighted mallet. The colour then follows the groove made. The pain lasted about three days. There is a story about a tohunga tattooing members of a tribe, who were unable to resist an attack which occurred on the third day after tattooing (due to the pain).

Mr Thomas asks if some skilled tattoo artists are able to use a form of hypnotism to help with the pain. Mrs Morehu says that this was true in the past, but no longer in their time. She says there are no real tohunga living today who practise the art.

The interview concludes with Mrs Morehu commenting that Māori women have moko as decoration - a tradition from the past, and it was also a mark of aristocracy. Mrs Morehu's eldest daughter has decided to be tattooed, so that she can carry on the traditions of her mother.

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Year 1948

Reference number 25610

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Interviews (Sound recordings)
Sound recordings

Credits Morehu, Mrs, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Vercoe, Henry Te Reiwhati (b.1884, d.1962), Translator
New Zealand Broadcasting Service. Mobile Recording Unit, Broadcaster

Duration 00:07:20

Date 1948