Māori woman makes history anchoring mainstream news broadcast: 'Every step I make is like breaking through a glass ceiling'

Oriini Kaipara has made history after stepping in to anchor for Newshub Live at 6pm, a mainstream New Zealand news broadcast.

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Kaipara is the first Māori woman with a moko kauae to present primetime news. She first caught attention in 2019 for anchoring TVNZ 1’s midday news bulletin — which was the first time someone on mainstream news bore a moko kauae.

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A moko kauae is a chin tattoo that represents the service and leadership a woman has provided her whānau (extended family) and her community. It’s recognition of her status, abilities and commitment. Kaipara has had her moko kauae for the last three years.

“It’s really exciting. I’m really enjoying it,” Kaipara told New Zealand publication Stuff after her Christmas and Boxing Day appearances on Newshub Live. “I’m not speechless, but it’s a buzz. I am proud of how far I’ve come in being able to anchor 6 p.m. right now.”

Kaipara’s ultimate goal is to permanently host the 6 p.m. news on Discovery-owned network Three. Her current role is presenting at Newshub Live at 4.30pm.

“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,” Kaipara added.

Kaipara is bilingual and of Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Rangitihi descent. She previously worked as a documentary filmmaker but is more aware of her cultural impact of being in front of a national audience with her moko kauae.

“That is always at the back of my mind, that every step I make is like breaking through a glass ceiling,” she said. “It’s breaking new ground for us as Māori, but also for people of color. Whether you’ve got a moko kauae or not.”

Kaipara also mentioned that her correct pronunciation of Māori place names and leading with the Māori name first has gotten a lot of positive feedback from viewers who finally feel seen.

“That was actually a big eye-opener for me to hear that. I didn’t actually realize that’s how powerful, or how much of an impact something as small as saying ‘Tēnā koe katoa’ and hearing the correct pronunciation presented on the news has on viewers,” she said. “Whether it’s one person or 100 people, it’s actually quite humbling. I was really taken aback and that’s actually quite profound.”

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