Oriini Kaipara A New Zealand TV presenter claps back at a cruel viewer

Oriini Kaipara, a trailblazing TV presenter from New Zealand, made history as the first primetime TV news bulletin presenter to proudly wear a moko kauae, a significant Māori facial tattoo symbolizing heritage, identity, familial connections, and leadership within the Māori community.

Despite facing criticism from some viewers for her tattoo and use of the Māori language on air, Kaipara responded with dignity and grace. One viewer’s email complaint described her tattoo as “offensive and aggressive looking” and criticized her for speaking Māori, suggesting it was a “bad look” and demanding she stop.

Kaipara took to Instagram to share her response, defending her cultural heritage and correcting the viewer’s misspelling of “moko,” while urging the individual to refrain from further complaints and to check their cultural ignorance and bias​

“We firmly oppose the choice to feature a newsreader with a Māori moko, which we find to be offensive and intimidating,” the complaint detailed, according to the Daily Mail. “It’s not a good image. Additionally, her sudden switches to the Māori language are beyond our comprehension. Please put an end to this immediately.”

Kaipara remained undaunted by such negative comments, deciding to take a stand by posting the feedback on her Instagram story for a public response, a move she described as breaking her usual restraint. “I’ve reached my limit today. I chose to reply, something I normally avoid doing. I stepped beyond my usual boundaries and pressed send,” she noted alongside the shared message.

She took the opportunity to correct the incorrect spelling of ‘moko,’ which had been misspelled as ‘moku’ in the criticism.

Kaipara’s reply went on to address the underlying biases in the complaint: “It appears your issues are rooted in a personal preference for how people should appear on television. The moko, and those who wear them, are not a threat and should not face such unjust treatment, harassment, or bias.”

“We mean no harm or ill intent nor do we/I deserve to be treated with such disregard,” she continued. “Please refrain from complaining further, and restrain your cultural ignorance and bias for another lifetime, preferably in the 1800s.”

Despite receiving harsh feedback from certain individuals, Kaipara highlighted that the majority of the feedback she receives is positive, with instances of negativity being the exception rather than the rule.

Following her public response to the criticism, Kaipara discussed the broader implications of her experience with the New Zealand Herald, stressing the need for greater Māori representation: “The reaction of some individuals to my presence underscores the urgent need for more Māori voices in prominent positions across various fields.”

Kaipara’s poised and thoughtful rebuttal underscores the vital role of cultural dignity and resilience when confronted with challenges. Her actions encourage others to proudly own their identity and push back against prejudiced viewpoints.

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