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Classic Paintings Of Kuia Bearing Chin Moko Return To Life In New Printing Of Celebrated Book

A revered selection of paintings of Māori women bearing moko kauae has returned to life in a new printing of Harry Sangl’s celebrated book Blue Privilege, published this week as Te Kuia Moko.

Newly arrived in New Zealand in 1969, Prague-born artist Harry Sangl became captivated by the paintings of kaumatua and kuia (elders) of C.F. Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer. He believed kuia with moko kauae (chin tattoos) were of a bygone era — until he saw a photograph of one in March 1972 in the New Zealand Herald.

Tiria Tuhoro was her name. Harry packed up his caravan and left that same day to find her at Ruatoki, near Te Urewera. So began a three-and-a-half-year journey around the North Island, completed portraits of 34 kuia with moko, with their permission.

His celebrated paintings were published as The Blue Privilege in 1980, accompanied by biographies of the women in their own words and black-and-white sketches of their moko, along with essays by Merimeri Penfold and D.R. Simmons.

Following a successful showing of the works at the Depot Artspace in Devonport, Auckland last year, Harry and his daughter Michaela have worked with Auckland printers Soar Print and publishers Oratia Books to make this work available in an affordable paperback edition.


Harry Sangl was a professional artist in Europe before emigrating to New Zealand in 1969 and beginning his journey into te Ao Māori. An exhibition of his kuia moko prints was held at Auckland’s Depot Artspace in March 2019. Now in his nineties, Harry lives in Auckland.

Te Kuia Moko: The Last Tattooed Māori Women by Harry Sangl

Published by Oratia Books in association with Soar Print

ISBN: 978-0-947506-77-3 | RRP $65 | Paperback

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