Ta Moko almost disappeared over time as the Maori lost their land and culture with the influx of white settlers. Until recently, Maori tattoos were mostly worn by gangs and disaffected youth, mostly as an act of protest against the theft of their people's sovereignty. A few women elders of the Maori also held onto the Ta Moko tradition, which helped the cultural meaning behind the symbols from being lost to history.
In the 1990's, the New Zealand government agreed to compensate the Maori for the loss of their territory, which has created a cultural renaissance of Maori art, most notably Ta Moko. Everywhere, people of Maori heritage are seeking to connect with their roots, to learn about the symbols and their meanings as they receive their own Ta Moko. Given that the designs vary by tribe and family, the desire for Ta Moko often leads to s deeper investigation of Maori history, which is strengthening their cultural bonds for the present and future.
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