The husband of Sally Anderson, the Pākehā woman who is facing backlash for sporting a traditional Tā moko, has defended his wife.
"She's more Maori than you'll ever be," Roger Te Tai, Anderson's Māori husband who bears a full facial moko, told Te Karere on Tuesday.
However, he said it took him two-and-a-half years to "actually accept her" wanting to get the the moko done, which she eventually had done by Auckland artist Inia Taylor four years ago.
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Mr Te Tai criticised people for judging Ms Anderson for her decision to sport a Tā moko, saying, "When you judge a person and you haven't met them what does that say about you?"
He said Ms Anderson is "more Maori than you'll ever be because her heart is pure, always has been, her soul is a pure soul".
Ms Anderson believes the tattoo represents her turning a corner in her life after being gang raped by Mongrel Mob members as a teen.
Artist Ngahina Hohaia, who also has a moko, strongly criticised the moko and 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 Taylor replied to say he initially had misgivings about the moko when he received Ms Anderson's request, but felt he could not deny her simply because she was white.
"I had strong reservations but after many calls and discussions I realised that the only reason to deny her would be that of race. At the time I wasn't prepared to be racist," he wrote.
Ms Anderson has now removed some of the branding from her coaching agency Evolved Leadership website amidst the controversy, though pictures of her with the moko remain.
Newshub has approached her for comment.