TV presenter with Māori face tattoo hits back at cruel trolls

A television host adorned with a traditional Māori facial tattoo has gracefully addressed troll comments from a viewer, reaffirming pride in her cultural heritage and identity.

Facial tattoos often spark debates online, with some arguing that tattoos should be limited to the body, while others embrace their cultural significance.

Oriini Kaipara, 41, a pioneering TV presenter, made history when she joined New Zealand’s Newshub as a newsreader, becoming the first primetime TV news bulletin presenter with a moko kauae, a revered cultural marking worn by Māori women.

Māori, the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand, view moko kauae as profound symbols of heritage and identity. These facial tattoos, traditionally received on the lips and chins, symbolize a woman’s familial connections, leadership within her community, and honor her lineage, status, and capabilities.

However, amidst the praise, one viewer, known as David, expressed displeasure with Kaipara’s moko kauae in an email to Newshub.

“We continue to object strongly to you using a Māori newsreader with a moku [moko] which is offensive and aggressive looking,” he wrote, per the Daily Mail. “A bad look. She also bursts into the Māori language which we do not understand. Stop it now.”

Undeterred by David’s derogatory remarks, Kaipara bravely addressed the issue head-on, sharing screenshots of the messages on her Instagram story and responding with grace and dignity.

“Today I had enough. I responded. I never do that. I broke my own code and hit the send button,” she wrote on an Instagram story accompanied by a screenshot of David’s message.

She also corrected his spelling of moko, as David had referred to hers as “moku”.

In her email, Kaipara continued: “I gather your complaints stem from a place of preference on how one must look on-screen according to you. Moko and people with them are not threatening nor do they deserve such discrimination, harassment and prejudice.

“We mean no harm or ill intent nor do we/I deserve to be treated with such disregard,” she continued. “Please refrain from complaining further, and restrain your cultural ignorance and bias for another lifetime, preferably in the 1800s.”

Despite David’s harsh criticism, Kaipara emphasized that she mostly receives praise and that cruel trolls are rare.

In an interview with the New Zealand Herald shortly after she responded to David’s complaint, Kaipara spoke about the importance of having more Māori advocates: “The fact that my existence triggers some people is testament to why we need more Māori advocates in key roles across every sector.”

Overall, Kaipara’s dignified response serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of cultural pride and resilience in the face of adversity – inspiring others to embrace their identities unapologetically and challenge discriminatory attitudes.