Ruahine: Stories In Her Skin (2019)

  • 40min
  • Hiona Henare
  • New Zealand
  • 2019

Following Lisa Taouma’s Marks of Mana at Doc Edge 2019, Hiona Henare’s beautifully lyrical and intimate documentary closes in even more tightly on the art and meaning of tatau in Ruahine: Stories in her Skin, which was among the winners at this year’s FIFO in Tahiti.

For Māori women receiving their traditional moko kauae (chin tattoos), they are visually asserting their birthright and identity while celebrating the mana (spiritual power) of their whakapapa (ancestry). In Māori tradition, the head is considered the most tapu (sacred) part of the human body, making the practice of moko kauae highly prestigious and exclusive to Māori women.

“This sacred Māori artform was suppressed
through legislation, but in recent years
it’s had a resurgence with more women getting them
etched on their chins.”

— Rewa Harriman, Newshub

Hiona’s film focuses on the ceremony where two Muaūpoko wahine, Anahera Winiata and Janice Cherie Pania Eriha, receive their traditional moko kauae.

Muaūpoko tā moko artist, Sian Montgomery-Neutze, gave the women her first ever moko kauae. The ceremony took place at Pariri Pā in Hiona’s hometown Levin.

Hiona’s access delivers an uninhibited and unobstructed experience, filled with traditional songs and story.

Watch Q&A: Hineani Melbourne talks to director Hiona Henare and subject Sian Montgomery-Neutze

Read the Viva interview with director Hiona Henare here.

Previous festival selections include:
FIFO Tahiti: 2020 Prix Spécial Du Jury


Hiona Henare



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