Musings on Mau Moko

Mau Moko is an absolute treasure.  In my opinion this is the best book we have in our collection on the subject of Moko (often described by others as Māori tattoo). The book is the result of Dr Ngahuia Te Awekotuku’s doctoral thesis and as such provides a fascinating and comprehensive introduction and exploration into the world of Māori moko – both the facial and body moko worn by men and the more delicate and beautiful moko kauae worn by women. If you have an interest in Moko, this book is an easy and engaging read.

Some of the ideas explored in the book include the history and traditions associated with moko from pre-colonisation to the present day, an exploration of the links between moko and other aspects of Māori culture, the cultural values (whakapapa, tapu, the wairuatanga) associated with moko, discussion on gender and how this relates to moko as well as delving into the current revival and resurgence of the traditional art form by providing case studies of those who have chosen to mau moko in the present day. To make it even better, the book is full of strikingly beautiful images and photography.

If you do read this book, and are keen to learn more, we have over 40 titles at Christchurch City Libraries that relate to moko you may be interested in. You may also like to check out the latest edition of the Ngāi Tahu Magazine Te Karaka, which has a moving feature article sharing the stories of Kai Tahu takata who all wear moko.

This book also features on our latest Staff Picks from the Ngā Pounamu Māori Collection List, which has a real variety of titles – if you’re after some inspiration for your summer reading list you might like to have a look here as well.

Christchurch – this week in history (3 December – 9 December)

3 December 1867
Canterbury Museum (New Zealand’s first) opened to public in an upstairs room in the Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings. The collection had been assembled by Julius (later Sir Julius) Von Haast.

3 December 1924
Children’s Library opens in Hereford Street.

Geological sections of Lyttelton and Christchurch railway tunnel [by Julius von Haast]. [ca. 1875]
9 December 1867
Lyttelton railway tunnel opened 145 years ago today, the first in the world to be drilled through a volcano rim. It was New Zealand’s first tunnel, and at the time was described as one of the longest in the world, yet had been planned and financed by this tiny colonial settlement whose population was just over 9000, (6,647 in Christchurch and 2,510 in Lyttelton.)

More December events in our Christchurch chronology.