Anikaaro Harawira; Female Ta-Moko Expert:
Anikaaro Harawira, is one woman who loves her culture. So much so that she will even break tradition to be a part of what she views as a beautiful tradition. Where Anikaaro is from, she is the only female, who has ever been taught how to tattoo the traditional way. Not only that, but she performs the ancient tattoo ceremonies, on many a happy customer/client.
It is clear when watching, Marae’s interview with Anikaaro, that she truly loves, lives and breaths her craft. She talks about how she is able to visualize the perfect tattoo for any given person. After looking at them and especially after getting to know them. This is all a huge part of the perfect tatau journey.
She is meeting a lot of controversy, in her local community and culture. This is all because there has never before been a female tattoo master, performing these tatau rituals. But Anikaaro is not too concerned. Her clients love her and her master who taught her the craft, was himself a man. If people can’t except it it is there problem. She loves what she does and she loves helping people on their tatau journey.
Renaissance of Traditional Tattooing:
Another thing which is clear in Anikaaro’s story, is that there is a resurgence of traditional tattooing and a love for what they stand for. Often we see it especially in the indigenous populations, in places like Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Polynesia. People are trying to connect with their cultural and tribal roots. Which they believe is best done through tattooing.
For many women in Anikaaro’s case, it is the Ta-Moko, which is especially sought after. It is a bitmore controversial (like with the women of Greenland), because it is a facial tattoo. Personally Anikaaro is not too worried, as long as they have come to terms with it, and their family and friends are okay with it, then who is anyone to judge?
In some cases and areas, the traditional tattooing and the culture it represents, will often clash with more “modern” believes. Different religions, new cultural views, long lasting stigmas and so on. But people are very adamant about, how their tattoo journeys do not fight against the modern culture they live in. It is more an attempt to unite their identities together.
Anikaaro Harawira trained and worked hard for many years, to gain the level of acceptance and the clientele she has today. So despite her traditional culture and tattooing, clashing with the catholic westernized view of her local community in New Zealand. She keeps her chin up and her head high. Hopefully she will continue to make people happy with her work and working for acceptance.