Politics | Arts

Tā moko marks milestone in whakapapa journey for NZ Defence Minister

Minister of Defence Ron Mark has received his first tā moko acknowledging his genealogical connection to his Te Arawa and Ngāti Raukawa ancestry.

"It's taken us a while to really understand, to learn more about our whakapapa and being raised the way I was I had no connection with my Māori side at all for many, many years," says Minister Mark.

"This tā moko depicts Rongowhitiao and our Raukawa and Te Arawa connections Ngāti Kuia and Ngāti Kea and I think it is a start of something that might just roll on," he says.

It's a legacy the minister and his whanau hope will continue on with future generations.

“I've learnt so much from people like Eru George, and the late Tumanako Wereta about that side of my whakapapa which is quite strange because I seem to have followed something of a similar path,” he says.

Ron Mark has received his first tāmoko. Source: File

Earlier this year the minister turned 65 years old and was overseas at the time. His daughter Melanie Mark-Shadbolt along with other whanau members took the opportunity following ANZAC Day commemorations to organise a special gift.

"It was a really key piece of whakapapa that we wanted to represent and it was a good time to do it,” says Mark-Shadbolt.

"This is been designed for our whole whānau and then, of course, everyone can build off it and have their own elements," she says.

One of the minister’s grandsons was on hand to support who is also named after their ancestor.

"The important part is that we all share it and that we have it, my younger brother got it a few weeks ago as well, my uncles and mum and now my grandfather has got it too,” says Marcus Rongowhitiao Shadbolt.

“So it's cool just to have that physical reminder of that connection," he says.