Who is Oriini Kaipara? Moko Kauae meaning explained as journalist becomes first person with Māori face tattoo to present news

Oriini Kaipara became the first journalist to present primetime news with a Māori face tattoo (Image via Oriini Kaipara/Instagram)
Oriini Kaipara became the first journalist to present primetime news with a Māori face tattoo (Image via Oriini Kaipara/Instagram)

New Zealand news anchor Oriini Kaipara made history by becoming the first to present primetime news with a Māori face tattoo. The 37-year-old went on-air in Newshub Live's 6:00 pm bulletin on Monday, December 27, 2021.

During the holiday season, the journalist graced the screens as a fill-in host for Sam Hayes and Mike McRoberts and proudly flaunted her moko kauae (a traditional tattoo worn by Māori women on their lower chin).

The reporter told Stuff that her experience was “exciting” as presenting primetime news allowed her to fulfill her ultimate goal in life:

"It's really exciting. I'm really enjoying it. I'm not speechless, but it's a buzz. I am proud of how far I've come in being able to anchor 6 pm right now. It's definitely a step forward, and a step-up. If there was a goal for me, it would be anchoring prime time news, and that's happened."

The journalist also advised future generations to use their culture as their strength and hoped that her stint would make way for several other Māori women to break the glass ceiling in the future:

"I've been realising for a while that it's much bigger than just reading the news, or doing stories that matter to all of us. 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. It's breaking new ground for us as Māori, but also for people of colour. Whether you've got a moko kauae or not.”

Oriini Kaipara reportedly got her moko kauae after she discovered her Māori descent in 2017. She will be hosting Newshub’s primetime news until December 30, 2021.


Everything to know about Oriini Kaipara

Oriini Kaipara is an award-winning reporter and broadcaster from New Zealand (Image via Oriini Kaipara/Instagram)
Oriini Kaipara is an award-winning reporter and broadcaster from New Zealand (Image via Oriini Kaipara/Instagram)

Oriini Kaipara is an award-winning journalist and news anchor from New Zealand. She is also a translator and interpreter of the Te Reo Māori language. She was born in 1983 in Whakatane and belongs to Ngati Awa, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Rangitihi, and Ngai Tuhoe descent.

She reportedly studied at the Kura Kaupapa Māori School in New Zealand and attended South Seas Film and Television School in 2002. Oriini Kaipara has been associated with the New Zealand media industry for over two decades.

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The mother-of-four was previously associated with TVNZ1, Māori Television and Mai FM. She left TVNZ1 earlier this year to join the Three network and has been working towards shaping “a positive bicultural” society in New Zealand.

The broadcaster revealed her purely Māori descent in the 2017 Maori TV program Native Affairs. She received the Voyager Best Maori Affairs Reporter Award in 2018 for the same show. In 2019, Oriini Kaipara became the first woman globally with a moko kauae to host a mainstream TV program.

The reporter previously praised her team at Newshub for their inclusivity and said she does not feel any pressure in her workplace as compared to her initial days in the industry:

"We've got a good team at Newshub, I don't feel the pressure as much as I used to when I first started out in journalism. But that comes with doing the hard yards, and then actually realising it and doing it is really exciting."

Oriini Kaipara currently serves as the permanent presenter of Newshub Live at 4.30 pm on Channel Three New Zealand.


What is a Moko Kauae?

Moko kauae is a traditional facial tattoo worn by Maori women on their lower chin (Image via Oriini Kaipara/Instagram)
Moko kauae is a traditional facial tattoo worn by Maori women on their lower chin (Image via Oriini Kaipara/Instagram)

A moko kauae is a traditional facial tattoo representing a Māori woman’s whānau (or extended family). According to Stuff, it also serves as a mark of a woman's service and leadership to her family and community.

The tattoo also recognizes a Māori woman’s mana (power of inherited elemental force), abilities, status and commitment to the collective. It also signifies traditional taonga (a cultural treasure) passed from ancestress Niwareka across numerous generations.

The tradition of wearing moko kauae was initially limited to the history books, but the practice was revived in the 1990s as a symbol of “identity, pride, and ancestral treasure.” As per the latest findings, any whakapapa (Māori woman) holds the right to wear moko kauae.

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Edited by Srijan Sen