By Hinewai Netana-Williams, Te Rito Journalism cadet.
Maikio McGrath says her moko kauae is a link to her past but recently it became a barrier to the present.
"Kotahi te ture mō te tangata mau ink me kī ki te mata, ki te kanohi. He rite aua mahi ki ngā mahi o ngā bikeys o ngā gangsters o konei. Nō reira, i mea mai e kore e taea te hau atu ki roto," she told teaomaori.news
(There is one rule for people who wear facial markings. It's like they think all facial markings are like those of bikers and gangsters that are over here. So I was denied entry.)
McGrath was denied entry to a bar in Brisbane because of her moko kauae. She says it's another incident highlighting the negative impacts of Western culture on taonga Māori.
"E kitea ana koe i taku kanohi nē, ehara tēnei i te tohu o te gangster, ō tētahi tangata mauhere. He tohu tēnei o tōku whānau, o tōku iwi, otira o te iwi Māori."
(As you can tell, these aren't the markings of a criminal or a gangster. This moko kauae represents my whānau, my iwi and te iwi Māori.)
Nanaia Mahuta, who made headlines around the world when she became the first foreign affairs minister to wear a traditional indigenous facial moko, says other countries can learn a lot from Aotearoa.
"These aren't the markings of a criminal or a gangster."
"Well, New Zealand has got some experience in that, so what we can do is demonstrate ways in which we can break down stereotypes of traditional, cultural facial moko which are about identity and nothing to be afraid of," Mahuta said from Suva, where she is participating in the Pacific Forum
That sentiment was echoed by her Australian counterpart, Penny Wong, during a recent meeting with Mahuta in Aotearoa.
"One of the areas I'm most grateful that we did engage on was having an indigenous perspective on foreign policy and Foreign Minister [Mahuta] brings such a depth of personal wisdom to that."
McGrath hopes that the more visible moko become, the sooner negative assumptions of others will change.
"Kia kitea āku ākonga i te kura i taku hiahia nui kia whāia rātou i tēnei o ngā huarahi hoki. Kia whakahokia mai tō tātou mana ki a tātou anō."
(So that my students at school can see how passionate I am about these traditions and maybe follow that path, and restore the mana to our people."
Te Ao Māori News asked the bar in Brisbane for comment. None has been received.