The story goes that I was born with a bright red spike of hair all over my head. My Nanny Kuia nick-named me Mor-kina (Kina meaning sea urchin in Māori) and thought that perhaps I was a patupaiarehe.
In Māori tradition patupaiarehe are fairy-like creatures of the forests and mountain tops. Although they have some human attributes they are regarded not as people but as supernatural beings. They were seldom seen, and an air of mystery and secrecy still surrounds them.
Apparently redheads were common in New Zealand when Captain Cook visited their shores, as were people with blue-green eyes. It seems that it is a common practice to classify all people who were in New Zealand when Captain Cook visited as “Māori” and to assume that all were of Polynesian ancestry. Yet, there is ample evidence that far from being branches of one people, there were many varied lines of peoples who sailed to and from these shores in antiquity. Perhaps this is where the red hair comes from….
As I grew older – my hair colour changed and eventually became mousey brown – or as I would say fairly non-descript. When I was old enough to colour my hair – tones of ginger red came back and have loitered around for a good 20 years or so. For the majority of my 20’s I also had a fuchsia pink/magenta stripe that ran down one side – you certainly could not have missed me in a crowd!
Now when I see or meet people with the real deal – I am truly besotted. Real red-heads are rare – perhaps that is why I am so fascinated.