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NZ newsreader hits back at viewer who called her Māori tattoo 'offensive'

A news reader from New Zealand has defended her traditional face tattoo after a disgruntled viewer called the Māori marking "offensive" and "aggressive," she revealed.

Oriini Kaipara, a journalist and presenter for Newshub, became the first woman to anchor on primetime TV with the traditional marking, called a moko kauae, but one viewer doesn't approve.

As a proud and passionate advocate for her Māori culture and language, Kaipara took to Instagram to hit out at the man who continued to complain about her chin tattoo to the Newshub news team.

New Zealand Journalist Oriini Kaipara with traditional Māori chin tattoo
Journalist Oriini Kaipara was the first woman on prime time TV in New Zealand to wear the traditional Māori chin tattoo. Source: Instagram/Oriini Kaipara

"We continue to object strongly to you using a Māori newsreader with a moku (sic) which is offensive and aggressive looking. A bad look," he wrote in an email which Kaipara shared on Instagram this week.

"She also bursts into the Māori language which we do not understand," he continued, before requesting that she "stop it now".

The man addressed the email to the entire newsroom and not her directly, Kaipara revealed in a series of Instagram stories which have now expired. He also spelled moko wrong which she rightly pointed out.

The journalist described the viewer, known only as David, as the "gift that keeps giving" in screenshots shared by media on Friday.

She said she'd normally ignore such comments but "today I had enough."

New Zealand Journalist Oriini Kaipara Instagram complaint about traditional Māori chin tattoo
The journalist shared the man's complaint on her Instagram. Source: Instagram/Oriini Kaipara

Journalist defends indigenous markings in scathing email

"He constantly complains about my MOKU and that I look aggressive," she wrote, emphasising the incorrect spelling of her cultural tattoo.

Kaipara shared her email response to David where she said she found his complaints "difficult" to take seriously "given there is no breach of broadcast standards".

"If I may, I’d like to correct you on one thing — it is moko not moku," she hit out.

"A simple, helpful pronunciation guide of ‘Maw-Caw’ will help you articulate the word correctly."

New Zealand Journalist Oriini Kaipara's response to complaint about Māori chin tattoo
Mz Kaipara hit back at the viewer in lengthy email response. Source: Instagram/Oriini Kaipara

The newsreader went on to say she felt David’s objections must come "from a place of preference on how one must look on-screen, according to you".

"Moko and people with them are not threatening nor do they deserve such discrimination, harassment and prejudice," her email said.

"Moko are ancient cultural markings unique to the indigenous people of Aotearoa, myself included.

"We mean no harm or ill intent nor do we/I deserve to be treated with such disregard."

She finished by telling David to "refrain from complaining further, and restrain your cultural ignorance and bias for another lifetime, preferably in the 1800s."

Before signing off as "the lady with the moko kauwae who speaks Māori but MOSTLY English on TV."

New Zealand's foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta
New Zealand's foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta became the first woman in parliament to wear a traditional moko kauae. Source: Getty

Calls for 'more Māori advocates in key roles'

The seasoned reporter told the New Zealand Herald similar complaints were a "minority", but said this complaint is "why we need more Māori advocates in key roles across every sector".

Kaipara is bilingual and of Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Rangitihi descent, according to the New Zealand Herald.

New Zealand's foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta also has a moko kauae. She was the first female MP to wear one in parliament and got it in 2016.

"Moko is a statement of identity, like a passport," Nanaia Mahuta, from the Waikato-Maniapoto tribe, told the Guardian at the time.

"I am at a time in my life where I am ready to make a clear statement that this is who I am, and this is my position in New Zealand.

The politician reportedly has links to Māori royalty, with her father the adopted son of King Korokī.

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