Facebook removes Maori tattoo for “breaching standards”

When do tattoos cross the line from art to indecent? And how do you draw the line when it comes to cultural identity? Well, apparently Facebook knows the answer to all these questions. They recently removed a photo of a traditional Maori body tattoo (a pūhoro) by Auckland tattooist Hirini Katene.

Facebook claimed it breached their community standards policy, but Hirini has been left confused by the decision. "I don't know why the video was removed - when everybody else looks at it, it's a piece of art," he says.

A pūhoro is a tattoo on a thigh, and this is where the problems seem to have come from. The photo shows... wait for it… someone’s tattoo’d arse! Of course in this day and age of mass shooting, suicide bombs and constant warfare filling people’s newsfeeds, someone’s bum is clearly crossing the line.

Hirini wasn't sure if someone had made a complaint or if Facebook's own monitors had removed the photo, but says he "was pretty let down." He told One News some people chose to see the nudity rather than the artwork the video was intended to showcase, and that there was nothing sexual about it.

Like genuine Maori tattoos, the patterns on the Pūhoro are linked back to where he's from, his whakapapa, his genealogy, all his ancestors, they're all put into that piece. "I've just done this amazing piece and that's what I'm trying to show off, nothing else.”

When researching your Maori tattoo design, it’s a good idea to come to Sunset and talk to Tristan first. A little knowledge about Maori culture and Maori tattoo design will help you make an informed choice about what it is you want. The art of tattooing is a rich and historic part of Maori culture, and is therefore deserving of respect. In Cultural terms, each Maori tattoo design had a deeper meaning, represented a milestone, or told its own story.

Contact us today for more information.