Woman becomes first Māori police officer in Queensland to wear moko kauae

A woman has proudly become the first police officer in Queensland to wear a moko kauae on the job.

Senior Constable Brenda Lee from Jacobs Well Police Beat recently received the moko kauae, and said she would be wearing it with mana and pride.

“It represents dignity, identity, worthiness, respect, integrity, genealogy, accomplishment, warriorhood, beauty, honour to serve others, you do not have to earn it, if you whakapapa Māori, it is your birthrite to choose,” Senior Constable Lee said.

“Being of Irish and Chinese descent, my heart is drawn to Māori. I am proud to be wearing moko kauae.

Senior Constable Brenda Lee prepares to receive her moko kauae Source: Queensland police

“It has taken me 17 to 18 years to come to a place where I was ready for moko kauae, it’s a personal journey.

“Tae mai te wā māku I was ready, this is my time.

“Everyone has individual designs and you never know what it’s going to look like until you get off the table. So, after it was finished, I went to the mirror and had a really good look and oh, man, I cried.

“It was what I was waiting for.”

She said her whakapapa helped her on the job, recalling a situation with a mental health patient where she was able to make a connection and keep the person calm by singing waiata and saying a karakia with her.

“I didn’t realise being Māori would have such an effect on my policing jobs.”

Senior Constable Lee was raised in Auckland's Pakuranga and joined Queensland Police in 2000.