Face and Thighs; The Difference Between North and South New Zealand:

The face and thighs are today, as they have always been, important areas for traditional Maori tattoos. However, back when James Cook first set foot on New Zealand, he discovered an important distinction between the North and South main islands of New Zealand. In fact, previously when another explorer had been to New Zealands northern island only, there had not been much mention of tattoos.

But what James discovered were an extensive tattoo culture, on both the main islands. But with some distinctive differences between the islands. On the southern Island, they were in general much more heavily tattooed than they were on the North. But they also tended to tattoo their faces (the Ta-Moko). But the southern maori didn’t just tattoo the face, they tattooed their bodies all over.

The northern maori, had many various styles and methods of tattooing. But their was generally less facial tattooing. Mainly some women would have smaller chin tattoos. But there were a cultural trend of tattooing the thighs and buttocks of men. Their were definitely different purposes for these tattoo trends. Cook speculated that the southern Maori, tattooed their faces so that they together with the Haka (war dance), could instill fear in enemies (Van Dinter, 2005).

Final Comment:

Face and thighs, it is funny what a little distance can do to cultural trends, even within the same people. Today both tattoo styles are important treasures to the Maori all over New Zealand. Hopefully the Maori will continue to keep these treasures of their culture, alive in the years to come. Their is so much history tied to their tattoo culture alone. That you could write books just about theirs.

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