Journalist makes history as first person with Māori face tattoo to present primetime news

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In a first, a newsreader in New Zealand made history by becoming the first person with a traditional face tattoo to anchor a primetime news broadcast. As photos of the journalist went viral, it won many hearts online with people stressing how ‘representation matters’.

Oriini Kaipara, 37, who has an ethnic lower chin tattoo worn by Māori women called a moko kauae, read Newshub Live 6pm news bulletin on Monday. Kaipara, who is filling in for the regular hosts on Newshub Live evening show, created waves online by becoming the first Māori woman with a moko kauae to present primetime news on television. She is currently filling in for the late-night news as well, 9 News reported.

Announcing the major development on Instagram, Kaipara shared a few snippets from her office at Discovery Network, which owns Newshub and Three.

Kaipara explained that she got the tattoo in 2017 after a DNA test revealed she was 100 per cent Māori. The moko kauae represents a rite of passage, marking the passage between girl and adulthood and symbolises a personal process of transformation.

Ever since she become the first wahine with a moko kauae to present a mainstream news show when she filled in on TVNZ’s noon bulletin in 2019, she has garnered much positive attention online.

She left TVNZ and landed at Three in May, to take up a permanent presenting role on Newshub Live at 4.30pm. “It’s really exciting. I’m really enjoying it,” Kaipara told Stuff after her Christmas and Boxing Day appearances. “I’m not speechless, but it’s a buzz. I am proud of how far I’ve come in being able to anchor 6pm right now,” she added hoping to find a permanent spot at the prime-time show.

“We’ve got a good team at Newshub, I don’t feel the pressure as much as I used to when I first started out in journalism. But that comes with doing the hard yards, and then actually realising it and doing it is really exciting.”

The bilingual journalist and broadcaster, of Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Rangitihi descent, uses Te Reo, a popular language spoken by Māori people often merging with English while hosting.

“I look forward to leading effective and positive change where Māori issues and interests are respectfully conveyed and relayed on our platforms – where our voices and stories are told fairly, accurately, and objectively,” Kaipara told NZ Herald after joining Discovery network in May. “I do not take this challenge lightly and trust that the mana of my people remains with me as I take on this new journey for all of us.”

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