New Zealand journalist becomes first Maori face tattoo to cover prime time news

written by Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

A Maori journalist made history in New Zealand by becoming the first person with traditional facial markings to host a prime-time news program on national television.

Orini Kaibara made global headlines after hosting Newshub’s first 6pm newscast on Three TV, with many hailing the event as a victory for Maori representation.

“I am really excited. I was over the moon,” Kaibara told CNN when she learned she would be reporting on prime time. “It’s a great honor. I don’t know how to deal with feelings.”

Kaibara’s introductory role on Christmas Day was the first of six consecutive days covering the regular anchors of the prime-time news program, although her tenure will run into early January and she will likely be called up in the future.

Already the permanent presenter of Newshub Live’s 4:30 p.m. newscast, the 38-year-old made history when she was appointed to the position in 2019, becoming the first person to wear Maori facial markings on a major TV news show. a program.

According to Maori tradition, the indigenous people of In modern New Zealand, facial markings are tattooed on the chin in women and are known as moko kauae, while they cover most of the face in men and are known as matura.

Kaibara got a tattoo in January 2019, which she says was a personal choice made for intrinsic reasons to remind her of her strength and identity as a Maori woman.

“When I doubt myself and see my own reflection, I don’t just look at myself,” Kaibara told CNN. “I watch my grandmother and my mother and my daughters and daughters come after me and all the other women, the Maori girls out there, and that gives me strength.”

Kaibara began her career in 2005 and said the prime-time animation news channel was the “peak” of her dreams as a journalist, although it was a “bitter sweet moment” because her recently deceased mother was unable to share that moment with her.

Despite all the positive comments, there have also been some negative reactions to Kaibara’s presentation, especially as she often uses Maori phrases such as “E haere ake nei” (coming soon), “Ū tonu mai” (stay tuned), and “taihoa.” “e haere” (not go yet).

The Maori language is very important to Kaibara. Its ultimate goal is to encourage people to speak the language that was “defeated by my grandmother’s generation” and restore it to the Maori people.

“We haven’t dealt with a lot of intergenerational trauma and colonialism, and for the Maori people, it’s very relevant and touching,” Kaibara said. “Ethnic relations haven’t changed much here in a very long time.”

However, the “enormity” of the occasion didn’t escape her, and in many ways it was a never-ending moment for Kaibara, who was inspired by Maori news anchor Tini Molino when she was a little girl.

“She was my idol,” Kaibara told CNN. “She was of the same color as my skin… She looked like me, she looked like me. It comes from my bloodline, my family, and the wakapapa (ancestors) where the ancestral ties to our land are.”

Kaibara hopes young Maori girls will be inspired by her story to show that times are changing.

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“For a long time, our people, our ancestors, and our Tippuna have done a lot of work now to get where we are now,” Kaibara told CNN. “As a young woman, as a young Maori, what you do today affects and influences what will happen tomorrow. So all I ask is that you see, accept and recognize the beauty of being a Maori and do what you can to make a positive change.”

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