Ta Moko studio opens in Titahi Bay

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BY KRIS DANDO | MAKING HIS MARK: Mark Kopua hard at work on one of his designs he free-hands the client’s moko on the skin before his tools come out. Photo: NORM HEKE

Porirua’s newest moko studio is open for business.

The Moko Ake studio, run by renowned carver and moko artist Mark Kopua, had its official opening on June 24. The premises will also be used to show modern art, jewellery and clothing, the latter from Kopua’s apprentice Taryn Te Uira Beri’s personal line.

Moko will be at the forefront of the new business, however. Previously based on the East Cape, Beri says their move to Porirua was a homecoming for her, being born there and of Ngati Toa descent.

“We really wanted to bring moko to Ngati Toa, to this area, and show off the strength and cultural benefits that it has. Here [in Titahi Bay], we’re in the heart of the community, close to Takapuwahia and Hongoeka, and we want to promote artists in the Bay, bring people together in one place. This place could be a hub, somewhere cool and fun to get art pumping.”

The “culture-based” art form that is moko is not something that just sits on your skin, Beri says.

“It’s what’s behind it that really counts. It’s an expression of your whakapapa, the genealogy of your whanau – moko says who you are, where you’ve come from, the journey you’re on, even the skills and qualities you possess. Moko is very personal.”

Beri says everyone from locals – Maori, Pacific and European  to overseas tourists get moko, with Scots and Frenchmen inked by Kopua in the past. He has also conducted seminars on moko.

People would travel a long way to the East Cape to see him.

But it is a serious undertaking. Along with the permanence, there is the cost – $200 an hour.

A consultation is carried out, and then a moko is drawn free-hand directly on the skin, something which sets Kopua aside from other artists. Often, the moko is inked on the same day.

Everyone is welcome to drop into the studio, Beri says.

“It’s exciting to be here after all that time in Tolaga Bay; we’re stoked to come to the Bay and are looking forward to meeting a lot of people.”

Moko Ake is open 10am till 5pm weekdays or by appointment, Jillet St shops, Titahi Bay.

(1) Comment

  1. Paula Whitewood

    Hi, I was wandering if Mark knew a Enoka Kopua, I am trying 2 find Whanau from my dads side. I was born 2 Ani White, nee Anne Whitewood Haimona, in Tolaga Bay. Left from there 2 Murupara an then 2 Ruatahuna, where I grew up. I did not have the chance 2 meet my dad, but heard I have 2 brothers. I would very much like 2 get 2 know them, So please if you know of any1 who may know, could you please pass my email address. Thank you. All the Best with your guys studio/shop. Will pop in if ever down that ways.

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