Māori Journalist Becomes First Person with Traditional Facial Markings to Present Primetime News

Oriini Kaipara made history in New Zealand by becoming the first person with traditional Māori face markings to host a primetime news program on national television.

On Christmas Day, Oriini Kaipara hosted her first 6 p.m. bulletin for Newshub on TV channel Three. “I was really elated. I was over the moon,” Kaipara told CNN. “It’s a huge honor. I don’t know how to deal with the emotions.”

This was the first of six consecutive days covering for the primetime news show’s permanent anchors, and her stretch will continue into early January, and the 38-year-old may be called again in the future. 

Kaipara is the permanent anchor of the 4:30 p.m. “Newshub Live” bulletin. In 2019, she made history as the first person with Māori facial markings to present a mainstream TV news program.

The Māori people are the indigenous people of what is now New Zealand. The traditional face markings are tattooed on the chin for women, known as moko kauae. For men. The markings cover most of the face and are known as mataora. 

“When I doubt myself, and I see my reflection in the mirror, I’m not just looking at myself,” said Kaipara. “I’m looking at my grandmother and my mother, and my daughters, and hers to come after me, as well as all the other women, Māori girls out there and it empowers me.”

Kaipara says she was inspired by Māori TV news presenter, Tini Molyneux, when she was a young girl. “She was my idol,” Kaipara said. “She had the same skin color as me… she sounded like me, she looked like me. And she comes from where I come from originally, my family, whakapapa (ancestors), where are ancestral ties are to our land.”

Kaipara hopes to inspire young girls, just as Molyneux did for her. “For a long time our people, our ancestors, our tipuna, and us now, have done so much work to get to where we are,” she said. “As a young woman, as a young Māori, what you do today influences and affects what happens tomorrow. So all I ask is that they see the beauty in being Māori and they embrace it and acknowledge that and do what they can with it for positive change.”

Image source: CNN