European sailors in the 1700s wrote about Maori tattoos, but the tattoos predate European exploration in the South Pacific. According to a 2012 article in BBC News Magazine, some modern Maori in New Zealand still wear traditional Maori tattoos.
According to New Zealand in History, Maori tattoos came to New Zealand from early Eastern Polynesian culture. The art of tattooing is called moko. According to the BBC News Magazine, Maori tattoos are tribal markings of adulthood and achievement. In ancient times, the faces of the indigenous men from New Zealand were tattooed from forehead to throat. The tattoos were used to indicate the rank and accomplishments of a warrior or other respected man.