A book on Māori moko written by University of Waikato academics has proved to be extremely popular among French students and has won an award from the University of French Polynesia.
The French translation of Mau Moko: The World of Māori Tattoo was named the students’ favourite text book for 2011 at the University of French Polynesia.
Its authors, Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Associate Professor Linda Waimarie Nikora, and student researchers, Mohi Rua and Rolinda Karapu were surprised to receive the award – a pyramid made from Swarovski crystal – in the post.
“We were stunned, thrilled and humbled,” says Dr Nikora who is Director of the Māori and Psychology Research Unit at Waikato. “It turns out the book is being used by students there in a number of disciplines – English, anthropology, art history and Pacific history, and we’ve also heard it’s being used in secondary schools.”
Mau Moko looks at moko from pre-European times to the present day. It examines the use of moko by traditional and contemporary Māori and links it to other aspects of Māori culture. It covers gender issues, different techniques and case studies. It also looks at the role of tattooers and exploitation of the moko in popular culture. It’s been described as the closest thing there is to a “complete” book on moko.
The book was first published in 2007 and won the lifestyle and contemporary category in the Montana Book Awards the following year. In 2009 it was named the inaugural Māori Book of the Decade. Last year the French translation was launched in Tahiti, and immediately sold out when it went on sale in Paris.
Professor Te Awekotuku has been invited to present at the Etonnants Voyageurs International Book Festival in St Malo, France, in May next year. “This is so exciting, and unexpected! The festival is prestigious, scholarly, and concerned primarily with exploration and adventure, usually in Africa or Asia. Next year, the focus is the Pacific, and questioning the colonial process here. Mau Moko is honoured to be part of that.”
A paperback version of Mau Moko was released in New Zealand last month.