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Seminal Work Honours Moko

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For immediate release

Seminal Work Honours Moko

When historian Michael King and photographer, Marti Friedlander collaborated to produce Moko – Maori Tattooing in the 20th Century in 1972, they had little idea that the book would retain its importance and popularity more than 30 years later.

Kept in print through these three decades, an entirely revised edition of this seminal work on the ancient art of Maori moko will be published early December. This new edition takes Marti Friedlander’s original prints, rescans and reproduces them in a spot varnished tritone on 157 gsm matt art paper. The larger, hardback format and new design truly do justice to this classic work.

This was Michael King’s first book. Favourably received, it was the catalyst in turning this great writer’s career in the direction of New Zealand social history.

King said his search for Moko became a search for people.

‘I salute the kuia moko. I farewell them again with respect as they disappear from our lives, though not from our memories.’

To research Moko, Michael King travelled through the hinterland of New Zealand to find and speak with those who were tattooed or with people who had first-hand knowledge of the custom. He located over 70 women who had been given the moko in traditional circumstances. Marti Friedlander’s magnificent photographs illustrate with skill and compassion the moko itself, the women who wore it and the environments in which they lived.

The book was a first for Friedlander, too, and one which she is thrilled to still see in print today.

‘I vividly remember taking photos of these kuia. New Zealander’s now-a-days are so obsessed with identity. These kūia didn’t need to ask the question; they knew, absolutely, who they were. They were powerful women and I have tried to capture this in my photographs.’

This new edition has a foreword by Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Award winning author of Mau Moko. She says King and Friedlander’s Moko is an incomparable visual resource.

Moko: Maori Tattooing in the 20th Century is a reflection of meaningful relationships; between the photographer and the writer; and also between this effective partnership and those more than seventy elderly women who shared their stories with Michael King and Marti Friedlander.

‘It is an example of visionary scholarship, showing Michael’s love and enthusiasm for moko, and the kūia themselves.’

Moko — Maori Tattooing in the Twentieth Century was Michael King’s first book. Celebrated as one of New Zealand’s best-known historians, he wrote more than 30 books, most of then New Zealand history or biography. He has won a wide range of awards for his work including the New Zealand Book Award for Non-fiction, the Wattie Book of the Year (twice), the Montana Medal for Non-fiction and in 2003, an inaugural Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement.

Michael King was tragically killed in a car accident in 2004.

Marti Friedlander came to New Zealand from London in 1958 and has worked as a free-lance photographer since 1964. Her highly regarded work has been widely published in New Zealand and overseas, and includes the book Larks in a Paradise, a story of New Zealanders and their environment, and a photographic survey of New Zealand artists. A retrospective exhibition of her photographs toured nationwide in 2001 and included several images from Moko.

Moko – Maori Tattooing in the 20th Century by Michael King with photographs by Marti Friedlander is a David Bateman Ltd hardback priced at $59.99 published early December.


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