I love the way henna designs can be shaped by people to have whatever meaning they intend, and the way it helps create cultural bridges by bringing people together through the love of the artform. I think that Gina Wright’s Mehndi Moko project is a really great example of this!

Gina traveled all the way from New Zealand to give a really wonderful pair of presentations on Mehndi Moko at this year’s Henna Gathering. Mehndi Moko began as a cultural exchange between Maori and Hindu people in Rotorua, Aotearoa (New Zealand). Gina has combined traditional and contemporary aspects of Maori art and culture to the application of henna to the skin to create some very unique and beautiful designs, each with rich symbolism. Unlike traditional Maori Taa Moko permanent tattooing that has deep personal and genealogical meaning represented in each design, Mehndi Moko uses symbols like those for the Elements and Guardian Spirits that are intended to be replicated and shared by all.

I just created a new video showcasing some of Gina Motutara Wright’s designs, done at Rhode Island Pride:

(Music by Dorian James)

The designs featured in this video are:

Hei Matau – fish hook, representing the wearer casting a line into the ocean, which can be taken literally, or metaphorically to mean they are casting a metaphysical line into the sea of success.

Kawakawa – heart-shaped leaves representing the healing kawakawa (kavakava) plant, a sacred herb to the Maori people, often consumed as tea. To be worn by a healer or anyone seeking healing energy.