Te Uhi A Mataora (Maori cultural tattoo)
This is the newest of the national art organisations, with the desired outcome of retaining and developing Ta Moko as a living art form.
- Derek Lardelli, Pouwhakahaere (Gisborne)
- Turumakina (Tu) Duley (Brisbane)
- Richard Francis (Rotorua)
- Mark Kopua (Wellington)
- Patrick Takoko (Gisborne)
Te Uhi was formed in response to inquiries received by Toi Maori concerning the need for a group to advise on the art form.
Te Uhi a Mataora Statement
Mission: To preserve, enhance, and develop tā moko as a living art form Vision: Te Uhi strives to uphold the traditions of the past. It looks to the future, as the art of tā moko continues to evolve.
1. Te Uhi a Mataora is a national collective of tā moko artists formed in 2000 to preserve, enhance, and develop tā moko as a living art form. Many of these highly skilled artists come from a carving background, while others specialise in design. They share a depth of understanding of traditional forms and designs.
2. Te Uhi has developed a strong kaupapa (set of fundamental Māori principles) for the practice of tā moko. This kaupapa provides boundaries and guidelines: respect for traditional customs and practice; care for physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being; and utmost care for the health and safety of the person receiving the moko.
3. Tā moko belongs within Māori communities and Te Uhi works to strengthen the knowledge of the art in whānau (family), hapū (sub-tribes), and iwi (tribes). But there is also strong international interest in Māori moko design, through the tattoo industry. Te Uhi continues to address pressing issues concerning the intellectual property of tā moko and to make sure it is always practised with integrity.
4. Te Uhi strives to uphold the traditions of the past. It looks to the future, as the art of tā moko continues to evolve.
A national gathering of 50 artists in April 2000 at Waipapa Marae, Auckland, discussed the formation of a national forum for Ta Moko. There was an agreement in principle for the establishment of a group and for it to become a member of Toi Maori. In July that same year, a National Hui followed at Apumoana Marae, Rotorua. An executive was elected to develop a programme to achieve the desired outcomes of the national collective.
Leading moko artists have experience as trained carvers, however, there is also a healthy number of practitioners who emerge from a design background. The depth of understanding of the traditional forms and designs depends on prior learning of the artists.
Safe health practices are a priority for Te Uhi. All members will adopt a code of practice to ensure consistency and care of wearers of the art work.
The call for research and development of current practices of Ta Moko is addressed through workshops. Members collectively gather and disseminate the considerable volume of knowledge of traditional Ta Moko. This is a primary role of the group and ensures a healthy growth of understanding of the art.
The work within tribes and sub-tribes is imperative to the art form returning and remaining within traditional Maori communities.
The international interest in Maori designs through the tattoo industry provides a healthy income and results in a growing awareness of Maori Ta Moko artists. For a number of artists, attendance at a tattoo conventions provides an integral employment for themselves as artists. It is this diversity of practice that will stimulate considerable debate.