When I got my moko kauae, I didn’t want to share it until I was ready. I was anxious about the “worthiness” questions and wanted to prepare. We need to surround and protect Māori women on this journey. Some try and “sort out their lives” before they feel worthy for it. But it’s not about that. It’s about identity and embracing who you are meant to be. I acknowledge that it also comes with responsibility. As Māori, we represent the collective, but we must still be ourselves within that.
For me, moko kauae is about drawing on the past to strengthen the journey ahead. Part of the story with moko is that you’re “there”, that you’ve “got it all together”. But where is “there”? A woman grows with her moko kauae. Sometimes the moko leads her and sometimes it reminds her she has the strength to keep going.
We are human with our own stories. No one fits into a box. I am a Mum, Māori Woman, Sister, Aunty, Ex-Wife, Teacher. All of these things are part of my story. Everyone has value. Don’t let anyone paint a picture of you but yourself.