I've been asked "Why don't you do tattoos" many times before. In this brief blog entry I would love to share my honest opinion about why I don't have or give tattoos despite my love and fascination for them.
First of all I need to say that I have a deep love and respect for Tā Moko (Māori tattoo / Polynesian tattoos). I'm constantly in awe of the artistry and skill that these moko artists have in Aotearoa and around the world. I acknowledge that for many people moko is a strong symbol of identity, commitment and family. However, with that thought in mind I would like to share with you the two main reasons why I don't receive or give moko.
The first reason is my belief in Jesus Christ. I have learned at a young age from my family and in scripture that the body is a temple and should be treated as such. To me that means not to do anything to deface or defile it (tattoos or piercings). Yes, this may seem contrary to my culture and art form that was anciently done to show achievement or genealogy, however, today there are different ways to show and record those important messages.
My belief is that ones identity is not defined by what you wear but rather whats in your heart.
The second reason I don't give or design tattoos is because I have seen and witnessed that one thing can lead to another. I'm not saying that "if you get a moko that you will end up doing bad things" what I'm saying is that the tattoo scene can definitely influence who you spend time around and what you do. For example I have seen that tattoos / alcohol and smoking all fit together well. Again I know many great people with tattoos who don't smoke or drink, however, for me I feel that the chances of that happening are higher, hence my first point that one thing can lead to another. This may be offensive to some reading this but this is my honest opinion.
In conclusion, the art form and practice of Tā Moko (tattooing) will always fascinate me and leave me awe inspired, however, despite the beauty of getting one or giving one for me it comes down to who I want to emulate and become like and that is Christ. If that means giving up a temporary symbol that holds meaning or culture that's exactly what I'm willing to give up or sacrifice.
This is a photo taken of Rangi Kipa's work at the Maori Market in Wellington. I was fortunate enough to work along side Rangi setting up and packing up his moko set up. I was constantly in awe of his incredible work. The flow, shape, design and meaning continues to fascinate me to this day.
To all my whanau (Family/friends) who have moko, Polynesian tattoo or Pacifica tatau / kakau , I love you no matter what. My over all message is not about how defiling moko is but rather saying who we are and who we become is not what we show to world but truly who we are inside and how God sees us.
I know this topic can be expressed in many different ways. I'm far from a great writer and I honestly have a lot to work on in the expressing myself, that aside I'd love to hear what you think . Please feel free to voice your opinion.