New Zealand reporter makes history as first primetime anchor with traditional face tattoo

Oriini Kaipara speaks during The Power Of Inclusion Summit 2019
Michael Bradley/Getty Images for New Zealand Film Commission

A TV journalist in New Zealand broke new ground recently when she became the first woman with traditional face markings to appear in a primetime slot on the country’s top TV news program, Newshub, on December 25.

Oriini Kaipara, 38, is almost 100 percent Māori (Polynesian people indigenous to mainland New Zealand), and in 2019 she got a chin tattoo in the tradition of the Māori people.

“In New Zealand, many believed there are no full-blood Māori left. It’s often been used by critics of Māori who seek equal rights and sovereignty. My results, at least, show there is one full-blooded Māori contrary to that belief,” the reporter told The Telegraph.

Kaipara made headlines around the world when she hosted the primetime evening news broadcast on Newshub, and people around the world congratulated her for representing Māoris. The reporter expressed her gratitude for being able to represent her cultural background.

“I was really elated. I was over the moon,” Kaipara told CNN. “It’s a huge honor. I don’t know how to deal with the emotions.”

Kaipara was brought up inside of Māori culture and speaks the language fluently. She covered for one of the channel’s permanent anchors for six straight days and will appear in the slot for the next several days, into January. She added that she may be called up to cover again in the future.

This isn’t the first time the newscaster made history. Before she got a job at Newshub, she worked at TVNZ’s te reo news show Te Karere. She said appreciates having the opportunity to represent for women, people of color and also the Māori people as a whole.

“That is always at the back of my mind, that every step I make is like breaking through a glass ceiling… It’s breaking new ground for us as Māori, but also for people of color. Whether you’ve got a moko kauae or not,” she told Newshub.