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'I couldn't believe it' - woman told to cover moko with makeup before entering Havelock North bar

A woman who wasn't allowed to enter a Havelock North bar because of her traditional facial moko tattoo says she never thought it would happen in her hometown.

On Saturday night Atawhai Tuki was told by a bouncer at the Diva Bistro and Bar they had a ban on facial tattoos, suggesting she pop home and cover it up with makeup.

Ms Tuki appeared on TVNZ1's Seven Sharp to talk about the experience.

"I walked past the bouncer then my partner walked past and he got stopped, one of the bouncers said to him you can't go in because you have facial tattoos.

"Then I debated that this isn't just a tattoo it's a moko, part of our heritage, part of our whakapapa and whānau."

The argument fell on deaf ears and Ms Tuki was then told she couldn't enter either.

They suggested she went home to apply Thin Lizzy makeup to cover her moko so she could be allowed in.

"That took me to another level of anger," Ms Tuki said.

Her friends calmed her down and she left the premises.

"To be stopped in my own hometown, I didn't think it would ever happen here," she told Seven Sharp.

The bar owner has since reached out to Ms Tuki and apologised for the incident, inviting her to visit the bar again and help train the staff in the relevance of the traditional Māori moko to avoid future incidents.

Ms Tuki has accepted the offer and is looking forward to the opportunity to educate.

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Atawhai Tuki shares her story with Seven Sharp. Source: Seven Sharp