Hawke's Bay community comes together after Māori woman told to leave park over her moko kauae

A Hawke's Bay community is healing from an incident that saw a Māori woman accosted for her appearance. 

Jay Scott was told to leave a local park by two Pākehā women because of her moko kauae. 

Her story sparked outrage online and on the ground with many calling for an end to racial discrimination.

Scott returned to where she was asked to cover her moko kauae. It's been a week, but she's still processing everything.

"I haven't been through anything like that before. It's confronting and a bit of a shock."

The local mother of four was harassed by two Pākehā women because of her moko kauae. 

They asked her to leave and when she wouldn't they then asked her to cover it with her mask because she was scaring their children. 

Scott said she couldn't believe what the women had said to her.

"I was shaken up, ya know. It was in a disbelief moment, I just think no one should have to go through that ever."

After sharing her story online Scott was inundated with support as well as anger, with many calling it racism. 

One local said she felt sad and angry by the whole ordeal and thought it was awful Scott was discriminated against.

Scott told Newshub it is important to understand this represents who she is.

"It's accepting us for who we are, this is our culture, these are our ancestors, this is our mana."

Te Tira Moko Kauae o Ngāti Kahungunu's Raina Ferris is one of the leading faces of moko kauae for the region's iwi Ngāti Kahungunu. 

She said she called an open hui to restore the balance, and reunite the community. 

"Ka tū tātou ngā wāhine Māori, ngā hapū, ngā iwi, me ka kōrerorero tātou ki ngā painga o te moko kauae."

"We stand together as Māori women with our people and amongst our tribe to share the beauty of our sacred taonga, the moko kauae."

At least 200 people turned out to the gathering on Saturday, both Māori and non-Māori.

Everyone Newshub spoke to was shocked by what had happened and insisted this is not typical of Havelock North. 

Hawke's Bay resident Heather Te Au-Skipworth said sadly it isn't just happening in Havelock North.

"It's not just here, it's down the road in Hastings, it's over in Napier but it's not an isolated incident and we should remember that."

Scott and her tamariki have been back six times to the park. She said she hasn't seen the two Pākehā women since but hoped they'd be willing to meet up and talk. 

"I don't have ill feelings towards them, I really don't. I feel like maybe it wasn't an attack on me, maybe it wasn't. Maybe they just thought, oh... you know? And if they wanted to know about our moko I'd be glad to tell them, I'll be happy to."

Saturday's hui was a start to rebuilding with organisers believing something good has come of something bad.