The origin of Māori tattoo can be found in the local legend which suggests that tā moko, the Maori tattoo, came from the underworld, called Uetonga. The legend states that there was a young warrior called Mataora, who fell in love with the princess of the underworld, called Niwareka. Niwareka came above ground to marry Mataora. However, Mataora mistreated Niwareka, which in turn, made her return to the underworld. Mataora, sick with guilt about the way he treated his wife pursued her to the underworld, only to be greeted by her relatives who laughed at his ragged appearance and smudged face paint. Mataora apologized before Niwareka’s family, and this act won Niwareka back. Before returning above ground, it was said that Niwareka’s father, the king of the underworld taught Mataora the art of tā moko. Mataora brought back these skills to his people and that was how the Māori came to have their distinct type of tattoo.
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