The placement of Ta Moko was highly significant. Maori tattoos said many things about the individuals bearing them. A person's family history, his status in society, his abilities as a leader or warrior were essentially written all over his face!
Because of the deep meanings behind Maori Ta Moko, as well as the ritual that goes along with it, it is considered an insult even today for outsiders to create Maori-like tattoos. They are far more than a pretty design.
Here are some of the placement meanings for Ta Moko in the Maori tradition we discovered at the website New Zealand in History:
A Maori with no markings on the left side, in most tribes, would indicate someone with no inherited rank on his father's side, and the same goes for the mother's side on the right. A Maori with no personal rank would have no markings on his own forehead.