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Discovering Ta Moko With 20 Ultimate Maori Tattoo Designs

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In the cultures of New Zealand and Polynesia, tattoo art is known as Ta Moko. It stands as a symbol of cultural identity, connecting the Maori people to their land, ancestors, and traditions. So, having a Maori tattoo means expressing yourself and your history.

In this article, we explore the beauty and intricacy of these living symbols, so join us as we go through the 20 ultimate Maori tattoo designs.

1. A modern take on traditional patterns

Credit: felipeblackink

Ta Moko is a unique expression of cultural heritage and identity through tattoos. This striking example marries traditional Maori design with modern aesthetics.

At the shoulder, a mandala-like motif commands attention, drawing the eye to the circular patterns that signify continuity and connection.

2. Geometric Maori tattoo

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This unique Maori tattoo features a full sleeve design that stretches over to cover a vertical half of the torso.

It’s a mesmerizing concept that blends bold geometric shapes with traditional Maori symbolism. Dominating the design are large, puzzle-like elements that interlock seamlessly, creating a sense of unity and structure.

3. A protective Maori leg tattoo

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The leg in this image is adorned with a Ta Moko tattoo that is both protective and profound. The centerpiece is a face with exaggerated features, thought to ward off evil spirits.

The arrow-like triangles along the calf might symbolize strength and progress in life. This tattoo is a perfect blend of personal expression and homage to ancestral wisdom.

4. Traditional face Maori tattoo

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Emblazoned on the chin, this so-called Moko Kauae design is a profound expression of cultural pride and identity. Traditionally reserved for Maori women, the Moko Kauae is a rite of passage.

The specific details of this face tattoo are carefully chosen, and each one carries significant meaning about the woman’s genealogy, social standing, and personal achievements.

5. A Maori tattoo with a splash of color

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This Maori tattoo has a cool modern touch in the form of a couple of splashes of blue. While it gives the design a lot of life and vibrancy, it might also carry a deeper, spiritual meaning.

The color itself could represent the ocean, a vital element in Maori culture. While it may not be traditional in Maori tattoos, from a visual perspective, it contrasts the black ink quite well.

6. The mythical Manaia

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This compelling Ta Moko piece seems to be an artistic depiction of the Manaia, a mythical creature in Maori culture believed to be the messenger between the earthly and spiritual realms.

The vivid red and black patterns swirl together to form the bird-like figure, with its head turned to the side, conveying a sense of watchfulness and guardianship.

7. A chest Maori tattoo to wear with pride

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Encompassing the chest and arm, this comprehensive Ta Moko tattoo resonates deeply with Maori heritage.

At the heart of this man’s chest piece is a Tiki, a significant figure representing the first man in Maori mythology, often associated with fertility and protection.

8. Incredible Maori forearm tattoo

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This delicate Maori tattoo gracefully decorates the forearm, with turquoise shades that bring to mind the Maori reverence for the sea and its creatures.

The swirling lines are reminiscent of waves and the unfurling koru, which symbolize new beginnings and eternal growth.

9. Maori linework

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This linework design, with its arresting black ink, creates a striking visual impact, emphasizing the importance of each etched line and symbol.

In Maori culture, such patterns often communicate aspects of one’s family history, battles fought, and milestones reached.

10. Matching Maori tattoos

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This is a great example of a pair of matching tattoos with a Maori design that you can get with somebody who is important to you. The tattoos here are relatively small, at least compared to the bold tribals we often see, yet they still look great and can carry a lot of meaning.

It’s a tattoo that connects not only to another person but also to your entire ancestry.

11. Minimalist Maori tattoo


This minimalist Maori band tattoo combines elegance with profound symbolism. The central, spearhead-like motif is reminiscent of a pattern representing the teeth of the taniwha, a mythical creature respected for its power and seen as a guardian in Maori culture.

This could suggest protection and strength for the wearer. It’s a subtle yet powerful reminder of the wearer’s roots and the collective strength drawn from their ancestors.

12. The Koru spiral on the shoulder

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This elegant Maori tattoo on the shoulder features the koru spiral, which is a symbol of new life and growth. It’s beautifully decorated with floral elements, adding a lovely feminine touch to it.

When you combine these two meanings in a single concept, you get a wholesome message of fertility, and the eternal cycle of life and rebirth in nature.

13. Beautifully symmetric lower back Maori tattoo

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The Ta Moko design displayed on the back is a stunning exhibition of symmetry and symbolism, following the line of the spine down to where it splits into two parts in the lower back area.

This central column of diamond shapes and geometric patterns could represent stability and balance, as well as the spiritual backbone of the person wearing it. In Maori culture, the spine is often considered the conduit of life force.

14. Maori dragon motif on the calf

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At the center of this calf design is an impressive dragon-like figure, standing tall and imposing. Directly above and below it are bands featuring triangles pointing inward, which often represent shark teeth.

The way the design encases the calf signifies grounding and support, essential qualities for one who stands firm in their identity and convictions.

15. A bold back piece

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The circle in the middle of this design, with its complex weave of lines, is a symbol of the sun, life, vitality, and endurance. The surrounding designs are also rich in symbolism, from the unfurling koru to the shark teeth patterns.

The tattoo extends down the spine, seemingly signifying the life path one follows, intertwined with the many influences and connections that shape it.

16. A Maori warrior’s armor

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This extensive Maori tattoo covers nearly the entire upper body in a very bold manner, almost serving the role of a warrior’s armor. It’s a powerful message of wearing your Maori heritage as a shield against life’s challenges.

When it comes to the design itself, it’s a rich tapestry of shapes, lines, and objects, the most prominent of which is the sun disk on the chest.

17. Intricate leg linework


To me, the elaborate linework on this leg tattoo is evocative of the flow of water, which once again reflects the importance of the sea and navigation in Maori culture.

The design flows naturally with the shape of the person’s calf, paralleling water’s ability to adapt its flow to its surroundings. It signifies how you can always reinvent yourself in life in order to succeed and find your way.

18. Full-back Maori tapestry

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This amazing ink tapestry dominates the entire back and offers a lot of awesome details to study. Both shoulder blades are adorned with mandala-like circles that capture the intention immediately.

The mandalas are framed by a myriad of traditional patterns, and the design extends further across the shoulders and down both arms. It’s almost as if the tattoo embraces the person wearing it, giving them support on their journey through life.

19. A stunning back and upper arm tattoo

Credit: aito_tatau

This design, while bold in its appearance, is intricate in detail and storytelling. The squares within circles and the various conflicting patterns reflect the complex layers of identity and belonging.

It’s as if this person’s skin has become a living canvas, proudly displaying history, tradition, and personal achievement.

20. Ta Moko motifs across your heart

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Framing the upper chest, this Ta Moko tattoo is placed over the heart, a location of profound significance, symbolizing the seat of one’s emotions and the center of connection to others.

The symmetry of the design signifies balance and harmony, while the sharp elements along the borders give it a certain edginess. Worn at the chest like this, this Maori tattoo almost serves as a sort of a talisman.

Overall, exploring the world of Ta Moko through these 20 ultimate Maori tattoo designs unveils a mesmerizing fusion of cultural legacy and personal expression, each intricate pattern narrating a unique story of identity and heritage.