Maori reporter becomes first person with facial markings to present prime-time news

Written by Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

A Maori journalist made history in New Zealand by becoming the first person wearing traditional facial markings to host a prime-time news program on national television.

Oriini Kaipara made headlines around the world after hosting her first 6 p.m. bulletin for Newshub on TV channel Three, with many praising the milestone as a victory for Maori representation.

“I was really thrilled. I was over the moon,” Kaipara told CNN of when she found out she would be covering the prime time slot. “It’s a huge honor. I don’t know how to deal with emotions.”

Kaipara’s Christmas Day introductory role was the first of six consecutive days covering the prime-time news show’s permanent presenters, though her stint continues through early January and she said she could be recalled in the future.

The 38-year-old is already the permanent presenter of the 4:30 p.m. Newshub Live newsletter and made history in 2019 while working for TVNZ, when she became the first person to wear Maori facial markings. to present a television news for the general public. program.

In the tradition of the Maori people, who are the indigenous people of what is now New Zealand, facial markings are tattooed on the chin for women and known as moko kauae, while for men they cover most of the face and are known as mataora .

Kaipara got her “moko” in January 2019, which she said was a personal decision she made for fundamental reasons, to remind her of her power and identity as a Maori woman.

“When I doubt myself and see my reflection in the mirror, I don’t just look at myself,” Kaipara told CNN. “I watch my grandmother and my mother, and my daughters, and hers to come after me, and all the other women, the Maori daughters and that gives me power.”

Maori news anchor Oriini Kaipara with her colleagues from Newshub. Credit: oriinz via instagram

Having started her career in 2005, Kaipara has said that animating the prime-time news slot was the “climax” of her dreams as a journalist, even though it was a “bittersweet moment” because her mother , recently deceased, could not share the moment with her.

Despite all the positive comments, there were also some negative reactions to Kaipara’s presentation, especially since she often uses Maori phrases such as “E haere ake nei” (yet to come), “Ū tonu mai “(stay with us) and” Taihoa e haere “(don’t go yet).

The Maori language is extremely important to Kaipara. Its ultimate goal, she said, is to encourage people to speak the language that was “beaten out of my grandmother’s generation” and reclaim it for the Maori people.

“We still haven’t touched on a lot of intergenerational trauma and colonization and for Maori, it’s also very, very relevant and poignant,” Kaipara said. “Not much in terms of race relations here has changed in a very long time.”

However, the “enormity” of the occasion was not lost on her and in many ways it was a looping moment for Kaipara, who was inspired by Maori television news anchor Tini Molyneux when ‘she was a young girl.

“She was my idol,” Kaipara told CNN. “She had the same skin color as me … she looked like me, she looked like me. And she comes from where I originally come from, my family, the whakapapa (ancestors), where are the ancestral links with our Earth.”

Kaipara hopes young Maori girls take inspiration from her story to show that times are changing.

“For a long time our people, our ancestors, our tipuna and we now have done so much work to get to where we are,” Kaipara told CNN. “As a young woman, as a young Maori, what you do today influences and affects what will happen tomorrow. So all I ask is that they see the beauty of being Maori and let them embrace it and recognize it and do what they can with it for positive change. ”

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