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Trans woman speaks of cousin’s inspirational words before receiving moko - 'This is us cuz'

When she was just three years old, Te Hata Kepa knew she wanted to be a woman.

“People don’t get to decide how you feel about yourself."

“I truly believe that I am a woman.”

Now she wants to affirm herself as female by receiving her moko kauwae.

Two transgender women are taking the step to get their moko kauwae.
Two transgender women are taking the step to get their moko kauwae. Source: Te Karere

“I feel like my female essence is enough,” she said. 

Despite a challenging upbringing, Ms Kepa has known for a long time she wanted a moko kauwae.

“I don't want to trample on the mana of my family and tribe because I was born a male," she told TVNZ 1's Te Karere.

She won’t be the first to have a moko kauwae, two weeks ago Hohourongo Fleur Waiapu received hers.

“There was a big discussion, a huge discussion, that happened in the background,” she says.

“The last thing my cousin he said was ‘this is us cuz. I'm here so that we can do this’.”

The women have support of tā moko artist Anikaaro Harawira.

“I’ve yet to hear whether or not this was done back in the day, however this is the new age,” she says.

“I still stick to what I’ve said, that let those decide what path they want to take.”

Both Waiapu and Kepa know there will be people who don’t agree with their decision to get a moko.

However, it’s what their people say that counts.

“Mostly the discussions around the negatives of it come from those who know nothing about mau moko and it’s sad,” says Waiapu.

Yet, both women are committed to wearing the moko.

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    Hohourongo Fleur Waiapu received her moko kauwae two weeks ago, after “huge discussion”. Source: Te Karere


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