Man’s moko kauae sparks gender discussion

Man’s moko kauae sparks gender discussion

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Earlier this month he received a moko kauae traditionally worn by women. But it’s a move that’s marked him for criticism.
“I’m pointing out the fact that all of our historical narratives shows that kauae belongs to women,” says moko wearer Rhona Baker Reid.
A male moko is known as mataora and covers the whole face so wearing moko kauae can look feminine almost like cross-dressing according to Ms Baker Reid.
“For alpha males they would loath the idea of wearing that, but if you’re between both genders and quite uncertain about your tanetanga or wahinetanga or actually enjoy the benefits of both passports, so to speak, then perhaps you see the double value of being able to cross between both,” she says.
But Mr Salmon says: “I’m a man I love being a man this has got nothing to do with gender, my moko has nothing to do with gender it is a wairua hikoi not a physical one for me.”
He says his generation won’t put gender limits on moko.
“We’re all about accepting everyones differences and not having to be the same as everybody else,” he says.
But an expert says Mr Salmon is also pushing other cultural boundaries around female roles.
“A man with a moko kauae does that entitle them to karanga?” says Linda Nikora.
The debate is ultimately good for the art form she says.
“Our tipuna were demonised for wearing kauae. These days we can see people having a new love affair with moko,” she says.

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