May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Merging ta moko and hindu henna in the USA

2 min read

(Source | Waatea News) A Tainui artist is taking her moko-influenced henna skin art to an international festival at Providence in Rhode Island in the United States.

Rotorua-based artist Gina Wright (Tainui – Ngati Naho) says she’s fascinated with the role played in Hindu culture by henna, which is a natural coolant when applied to the skin.

She says what she calls mehndi moko is an attempt to fuse Hindu and Maori whakaro.

A lot of the symbols carry similar meanings, overall generic meanings also, particularly the koru is very present for the Hindu artform representing new life, growth, healthy development, very similar, Ms Wright says.

According to Maori legend says moko started as a painted artform like henna, and became an incised form after Mataora went into the underworld to win back his wife Niwareka.

Gina who is Maori on her fathers side and Irish on her mothers side understands that her great grandmother was a gypsy believed to be originally from tribes from Rajasthan, India.

I have always felt an affinity with Indian culture and art and have been practising Mehndi since I was a teen, said Ms Wright.

She enjoys working with Hindu Council of New Zealand. During the 2009 Deepawali Festival, Gina helped with Mehndi (temporary Henna tattoo) and raised funds for Ekal Vidyalaya. Ekal Vidyalayas are one-teacher schools established in tribal areas of India to bring education and literacy to underprivileged children.

Ms Wright, along with Shaloh Mitchell from Ohinemutu village and Dr Guna Magesan, General Secretary of Hindu Council of New Zealand, was one of the members who organised Rotorua Holi Festival earlier this year.

It was during these Holi festivities, that Mehndi and Ta Moko art forms of two cultures were brought together possibly the very first time in New Zealand, instigating a new phrase, Mehndi Moko.

Hindu Council of New Zealand has been promoting inter-cultural exchanges in arts, culture and heritage. Celebrating Hindu festivals such as Deepawali, Holi, Raksha Bandhan on a wider community scale is part of promoting and sharing culture.

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