A Ngāpuhi leader is defending the right for a Pākehā woman to wear a traditional Tā moko.
Sally Anderson, the owner of life coaching agency Evolved Leadership, had the facial tattoo done several years ago by Auckland artist Inia Taylor.
On her website, Ms Anderson said the moko kauae (female chin tattoo) represents the work she carries out in her business. She's since faced backlash from Māori after using the moko on branding images.
But Ngāpuhi leader David Rankin says a moko in modern society isn't as relevant and shouldn't be exclusive.
"I don't have a problem with it. She paid for it. It's her chin and if she wants to walk around with a scribble on her face that's entirely up to her," he told The AM Show on Wednesday.
Ms Anderson believes the tattoo represents her turning a corner in her life after being gang raped by Mongrel Mob members as a teen.
"Denoted by the simplicity of the design, Sally's moko kauae explains the transformative work that Sally does," her website said.
"She makes the complex journey of transformation simple, leveraged off the back of her unique life apprenticeship."
However artist Ngahina Hohaia, who also has a moko, has strongly criticised the tattoo and its artist Mr Taylor in a Facebook post.
"Pākehā women - moko kauae isn't yours to have. Māori men - moko kauae isn't yours to give away," she wrote.
Mr Rankin says Ms Anderson can do what she wants with the moko.
"If she paid for it, it's her property. She can do whatever she likes with it," he says.
"The moko artists, the tattoo parlours, are making a fortune out of it."
Ms Anderson has now removed some of the branding from her website amidst the controversy, though pictures of her with the moko remain.