31 Mar 2014

Maori tattoo seen as a therapy

7:47 am on 31 March 2014

A psychiatrist says the art of tamoko or Maori tattooing is helping people struggling in life to deal with problems including attempted suicide.

Man with moko

Photo: PHOTO NZ

The topic has been discussed at a two-day hui in Wellington, which ends on Friday.

This year's biennial Toitu Hauora Maori Summit is a forum in which Maori health professionals can engage with leaders and covered various kaupapa such as looking at how the use of Te Reo can influence health.

One speaker, psychiatrist, Dr Diana Rangihuna, told the forum about how the art of applying a tamoko to the skin can be therapeutic.

She says some ringata (Maori tattoo artists) have told her people come to them to cover up scars, while others seek to have a moko put on their skin to remember a moment or person as a form of intervention from harm.

Dr Rangihuna says some people are visiting ta moko artists because they're trying to prevent themselves from taking their own life because they're in a dark place.

She says in one case, one person goes along to see a ringata because it's an opportunity for the individual to converse and share their story.