Taa Moko Sessions: Anikaaro Harawira

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:06 pm on 1 April 2018

Northland disability advocate Ana Mackie receives a moko kauae (traditional facial tattoo) from Anikaaro Harawira in a new series about wahine taa moko artists.

Anikaaro studied at Toihoukura for four years before establishing herself as a taa moko artist. A

Anikaaro studied at Toihoukura for four years before establishing herself as a taa moko artist. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Undeterred by her disability, she made a conscious decision to live her life to the fullest.

Unable to dance anymore she turned to music, she now plays the guitar and piano.

A few months ago, Ana, along with her cousin Keatley, decided to get their moko done together, for Ana a moko kauae (chin tattoo) and for Keatley a mataora  (full facial taa moko).

During a weekend at home, Ana's family gathered with her and Keatley to sit in on this taa moko session.

Ana's home in Ngunguru is filled to the brim with instruments and artworks.

She's also a huge Trinity Roots fan and says it helps her to relax.  

"We've been planning this for months. I'm in a wheelchair so it makes it hard for me to keep on top of things so I've got a lot of whanau that help me and support me with that, a lot of awhi today, I'm very excited."

Ana Mackie works as a youth advocate for sportspeople with disabilities.

Ana Mackie works as a youth advocate for sportspeople with disabilities. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Ana is adamant that her disability doesn't deter her from doing the things she loves, she is mum to two kids and works as an advocate for young sportspeople who have disabilities.

"It's not even the moko that I am thinking about, it's the whole journey that brought me here and will guide me through the rest of my life, that's what I'm most anxious and most excited about," she says.

Ana's moko will represent her two iwi and ancestors.

"Moko is about Te Ao Māori and the world we live in, to uplift it and to keep it going for the next generations that's the main thing I'm doing it for, to not to let this custom wash out anymore, we  normalise it, that's what I'm about," she says.

Anikaaro Harawira has worked as a taa moko artist for four years.

Anikaaro Harawira has worked as a taa moko artist for four years. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Taa moko practitioner Anikaaro Harawira studied under the tutelage of Derek Lardelli at Toihoukura – the school of Māori Visual Arts at EIT Tairāwhiti.

Anikaaro's work has earned her recognition in Northland, where she grew up, and she's built up a steady stream of followers on social media.

Based in Awanui near Kaitaia, Anikaaro's taa moko artistry has taken her to Australia and Europe, but she says nothing beats the feeling of working at home.

"I'm a ihu hupe, I'm still a beginner, but this is my passion, moko kauae and mataora, I just wanna start stressing more of this kaupapa than modern moko that we are getting these days," she says.

Since 2014, Anikaaro has been nominated or placed in the top 4 in the Tatau Awards, an online community of Polynesian tattoo artists around the world.

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Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

In June of 2016 and 2017, she won the Best Tatau of the Month award.

In recent weeks Anikaaro has completed a couple of mokopapa in the Far North.

This is where a group of people all get their moko kauae and mataora all done on the same day at their marae.

The most recent mokopapa she held was at Waihou Marae in Panguru where 14 people received moko.

In addition to her taa moko work, Anikaaro is also passionate about waka voyaging.

Ana Mackie after her moko kauae is complete.

Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray