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Carved in Skin

Episode:84Te Papa Collection:Taonga Māori

Suggested curriculum levels:2 – 6

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, The Arts: Understanding the Arts in Context, Social Sciences: Identity, Culture, and Organisation

Description:The lines of a moko carved in skin represent so much more than a tattoo. Practitioner Mark Kopua explains the significance of facial moko.

Questions for students

  1. What does the carved wooden mask represent? Why was it made?
  2. List some of the information or stories that tā moko can tell about the wearer. In particular, use information from the Tale to explain the significance of carvings on the forehead and nose.
  3. Mark Kopua says most of his carvings are 'progressive'. What does he mean by that?
  4. What do you already know about tā moko, or about other forms of tattoo? Can they be regarded as an art form? Use the 'Connections and conclusions' response template to record the connections you can make. Write comments on any conclusions you can draw from these connections.
  5. If you had information about your life so far recorded in a tattoo, not necessarily on your face, what details would you include? Create a design that represents your own 'life mask'.

Related templates:

Connections and conclusions