Video: Girl to sue over facial tattoos

A Belgian teenager is to sue a tattoo artist after she left his parlour with 56 stars on her face, rather than the three she says she asked for.

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Fact Box: Maori

The first New Zealanders were the Maori who travelled there by boat from islands in the Pacific Ocean around 1200 AD. They lived in tribes and often went to war against other Maori tribes. For the Maori were a warrior people. Young men were trained in the martial arts and cannibalism was widespread. Eating your enemy was seen as the ultimate victory and a way of increasing your own strength.

In 1642 the first European explorers visited New Zealand. After 1800 many British immigrants came to New Zealand. New Zealand became a British colony in 1841. The Maori lost a lot of land to British settlers and there was a series of wars between 1843 and 1872. The Maori fought very hard but eventually lost. The Maori population fell from about 85,000 in 1769 to 42,000 in 1896 because of wars and European diseases.

The Maori population is today around 350,000. Although the Maori still struggle with problems such as racism, alcoholism, violence and unemployment, many have managed to integrate. At the same time, the traditional Maori culture is strong in New Zealand today. Maori children are taught the traditional Maori crafts, such as tattooing and wood carving, and Maori language has become a core subject at school. In 2004 the first ever Maori-language TV channel started broadcasting.

Ta Moko


Ta Moko is the Maori word for tattoos. The English word tattoo comes from the Polynesian word “ta-taau”. In Polynesia in ancient times it was easy to find food, so they had time for art. The tattoos changed during the wearer’s life.

Moko - a part of Maori culture

In New Zealand most Maori men and some women had tattoos in the face. The marks were cut into the skin. Some people also had tattoos on other parts of the body. The only ones who did not have Moko were slaves.

There were two main types of moko; one showed the bloodline, and another showed the brave actions of the wearer.


The Moko was cut into the skin with an albatross bone. Then they put colour in the scars. The Moko gave the wearer certain rights, for example the right to speak during meetings.

Ta moko in the modern world

Today Moko is skin art, and it does not have the same meanings as before. But some Maoris get upset when white people ('Pakeha') get Moko. They feel that white people have stolen enough of their culture. Robbie Williams has Moko, and that upset some Maoris.

'Pakeha' with tribal tattos. Copyright: Getty Images

Web resource

Maori Television

Maori legends and myths (New Zealand in History)

Maori site

The Maori language (NZhistory)

Timeline: New Zealand (BBC)