Ta moko is the permanent body and face marking by Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Traditionally it is distinct from tattoo and tatau in that the skin was carved by uhi (chisels) rather than punctured. This left the skin with grooves, rather than a smooth surface.
Captain James Cook wrote in 1769:
The marks in general are spirals drawn with great nicety and even elegance. One side corresponds with the other. The marks on the body resemble foliage in old chased ornaments, convolutions of filigree work, but in these they have such a luxury of forms that of a hundred which at first appeared exactly the same no two were formed alike on close examination.
The Tohunga ta moko (or tattooists) were considered tapu, or exceptionally inviolable and sacred.