Skip to content
Reviewed by Cassidy Bleasel, Teacher of English, Hamilton Girls' High School, Hamilton/Waikato
Opening sentence
I am holding two lizards.
Mokorua is the personal story of Ariana’s journey towards receiving her own moko kauae, accompanied by a collection of photography.

It is a beautiful book, split into two main sections. The first part is her story, followed by photographs of Ariana’s moko ceremony. It is simple to read, has been translated into te reo, encompasses illustrations of those who inspired Ariana’s moko kauae and discusses the history and politics behind having a moko kauae for Māori women.

Throughout the piece, I was reminded of my own struggle with identity and the connections with my own whakapapa. It fills me with pride that these stories are now being written. Ariana’s final words "My moko has now surfaced from beneath my skin, and she, Mokorua, has revealed herself in her green-lined goodness" shows the joy she feels after completing her moko kauae.

I recommend this book to all Māori women to help them feel empowered. My grandmother also read this piece, growing up she had te reo beaten out of her. She felt it was a powerful and important story. Mokorua would suit anyone who wants to better understand why Māori women would go on this journey of self discovery and how powerful that journey can be.

Do you have any advisory warnings for this book: Photos capture some blood from tattoo work, not offensive

Would this book work as a read aloud? No

Is there a particular part of the country that it's set in? Christchurch and Kāi Tahu
Author & Illustrator: Author: Ariana Tikao Illustrator: Matt Calman Translator: Ross Calman
Publisher: Auckland University Press
ISBN: 9781869409708
Format: Hardback
Publication: November 2022
Ages: General audience
Themes: The power of identity, Te Ao Māori traditions, history and belief systems, empowering Māori women