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  • Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 14 April 2009 Referencing Hub media

    Rebekah Fuller, University of Hawaii PhD student, describes her research into the role the vegetable caterpillar fungus played in ancient Māori traditions, including its use as ink for creating moko.


    Cultural use of āwheto or caterpillar fungus included as a tā moko ink was burnt and made into an ash and then mixed with a variety of different things, animal fat, but also dark berries to make quite a dark soot, and it had this really, really beautiful black dark stain. It’s not used any more, they were definitely passed on this for something that was recorded in the middle 1800s, and I haven't actually found a record of it being used in the last sort of century.

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

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