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  • Hika Taewa

The legend of Mataora & Niwareka

Animation and artwork by Hika Taewa Narration by Jake Taewa

This is an animation created as part of a University project by Hika Taewa. It is an adaptation of an ancient Maori narrative about the legend of Mataora and Niwareka, who were responsible for bringing the art of Tā moko and Tāniko to the world. Hika has allowed us to publish a transcription of his beautiful animation below. Enjoy!

Transcript: The love affair between Mataora and Niwareka dates way back to ancient times.

Mataora was a young warrior and his wife Niwareka was a beautiful maid who came from Rarohenga—the underworld and realm of the spirits.

They were happy for some time until Mataora became jealous and enraged and so it came about that he struck his wife.

Niwareka then fled to be with her people in Rarohenga.

Mataora mourned for Niwareka so he set out to find her. Before he left to find Niwareka he dressed in his finest garments and painted his face hoping he could win back her love.

After many trials and overcoming many obstacles Mataora eventually arrived in Rarohenga exhausted and with his face-paint messed up with dirt from his voyage.

Niwareka’s family mocked and taunted Mataora for his unsightly appearance, as their bodies were permanently beautified with tā moko.

In his humble state Mataora begged for forgiveness from Niwareka and her family and, admiring their exquisite tattooed body patterns, he asked Niwareka’s father, Uetonga, if he could learn the art of tā moko from him.

Niwareka and her family eventually accepted Mataora’s apology and Uetonga agreed to teach him the art of tā moko while Niwareka learnt how to do tāniko—the art of fine weaving.

Mataora and Niwareka then returned to the human world bringing with them the art of tā moko and tāniko.

Animation and artwork by Hika Taewa. Narration by Jake Taewa.

Thanks for sharing on indie team!



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