The full face Ta Moko is traditionally worn by men only. Men also were more likely to have their bodies tattooed than women. Traditional female Ta Moko mostly consist of chin, lip and/or forehead designs. The men had Ta Moko commonly on their buttocks, known as raperape, and thighs, called puhoro. Men's backs, calves and stomachs were other places Ta Moko was often displayed.
Ta Moko was a sign both of age and of status. Maori people tended to receive tattoos throughout their lives, and the designs were highly symbolic of many things, from life accomplishments, to tribal identity. It was also the rich and powerful among the Maori who possessed the most elaborate and extensive Ta Moko. Those of low social status were easily identified by their lack of tattoos.
It was also a rite of passage to receive Ta Moko, an important part of moving into adulthood, and the process came with much ceremony and ritual.