Navy opens exhibition of first naval officers with moko kauae and mataora

By Kayne Ngātokowhā Peters

The Royal New Zealand Navy has this week opened a new section of its museum that celebrates the first tāne Māori and wahine Māori sailors to gain their facial moko.

Melanie Huata Lucas is the first wahine woman in the Navy to gain her moko kauae. Rawiri Bairball was the first tāne in the Navy to gain his maora.

Huata Lucas says it was because of the request  from her family, that she decided to embody the face of her ancestors.

"He tino waimarie, he tino hūmarie ahau ki te whakatūwhera te kuaha pea mō ngā wahine ki taku taha i roto i te Tauā Moana."

(I am fortunate, and I feel at peace to have  been able to open this door for women in the Navy).

"I pātai mai taku teina ki ahau ko tana hiahia, tino hiakai ki te mau moko, engari ko au te mātāmua o te whānau. And i tō mai te kākano i roto i ahau, rima marama kua pahure, e takoto ana au i runga i te atamira."

My younger sister asked me, because she yearned for her moko, but I am the eldest. And so the seed was planted within me, five months later, there she was getting my moko done.

Huata Lucas got her moko kauae at the end of 2019 at Tauā Moana Marae surrounded by her whānau and naval community.

But leading up to that point, Huata Lucas says she was in two minds because she was not sure if her moko kauae would be accepted amongst those in the after life.

The first wahine

Melanie is the first woman in the Navy to get her moko, an example for many others - for other women and men.

He rerekē te āhuatanga nō te mea, kaore au i mau ngā kākahu o te Tauā Moana inaia nei, i ngā wā o mua, āe, he communications officer ahau.

(The difference to what is being portrayed is that I am not the first woman to wear the Navy uniform while getting my moko. I am now a civilian and back then I was a communications officer.) 

I tēnei wā, ko Melanie, te kaiwhakaharite kaupapa o Te Tauā Moana Marae.   
Melanie now runs events the Navy marae.

Me tika, me mihi ki tetahi atu wahine toa i roto i te Tauā Moana, ko ia te wahine tuatahi i mau kākahu o te Tauā Moana and i mau moko inaia nei ko Riria Pihema tērā. So me mihi ka tika ki a ia. He tino kapakapa taku manawa ki te kitea tēnei o ēnei tāonga o ngā tūpuna.

(It is only right for me to acknowledge another woman in the Navy, as she was the first to wear her Navy uniform while getting her moko. Her name is Riria Pihema. Congratulations to her. My heart jumps when I see these treasures from our ancestors.) 

Ngā iwi Māori o te Tauā Moana, he tino kaha mātou, ki te whawhai o mātou nei tikanga, mātou nei kawa. Ko tērā te mea nui ki te marae nei, kei te ako ngā tauira o ngā āpiha me ngā rangatira, ngā tauiwi e whakamōhia atu ki a rātou mā o mātou nei tikanga, mātou nei kawa. He rerekē te ahuatanga o te Tauā Moana, te tikanga o te Tauā Moana. koina. Ko taku nei hiahia kei te tino kākano e tō mai i roto i a rātou te tikanga me te kawa. 

(Māori in the Navy, we are invigorated, as we fight for our customs and our ways. That is the biggest task for us at the marae, for our students of the cadetships as well as our leadership team and our non-Māori, to teach them our customs and our ways. It is different in the Navy - the systems and the customs of the Navy. So it is my desire, to plant the seed into them, the Māori customs and ways).   

"Ko te tūmanako, kia pai ki roto i tō ngākau, mahia te mahi. Mau tō moko."

(My hope, is that if your can make it feel right, then go for it. Get your moko).