Tourists getting ta moko tattoos

By Anita Moran,

Tourists to Rotorua are choosing to take home a permanent souvenir - a tattoo.

According to travel bible Lonely Planet, the North Island is the second best place in the world to get a tattoo and a local ta moko studio says the recognition is no surprise.

The Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2013 lists New Zealand ahead of Morocco, Japan and the US, with Wat Bang Phra in Thailand judged the only place better to permanently ink your skin.

"Think 'Maori warrior' and an image of a fierce-looking dude with blue tattoos swirling across his face appears," Lonely Planet said.

"In New Zealand's indigenous culture, the complex designs - called ta moko - represent a person's identity, origin and bravery. It's like a history on the skin for those who know how to read it.

"Traditionally, artists made their mark using a bone chisel, though today they tend to use less painful modern technology. True ta moko is sacred so if you're Mike Tyson or otherwise non-Maori, you can get a similar-type motif called kirituhi.

"Auckland and Rotorua are centres for the art form."

Marie Hodge, the office administrator at Te Hira Toi Ta Moko and Tattoo in Rotorua, said at least 11 tourists had been booked in for ta moko-type tattoos in the past two weeks.

She said visitors wanted to take home a permanent souvenir to remind them of their time here.

"We get so many French tourists, German and Swiss tourists and they all want moko," she said.

"They find our designs beautiful and intricate and it is a lot different to what they can get back home. A lot of the tattoos available there are kind of one-size-fits-all, but we do things which are individual and unique."

She said it wasn't just European tourists who were looking for ta moko.

"We also get a lot of Kiwis who have moved to Australia. They come back and get some work done to either remind them of their trip or to build on a moko they already have."


Top places to get tattoos

  1. Wat Bang Phra, Thailand

  2. North Island, New Zealand

  3. Fez, Morocco

  4. Yokohama, Japan

  5. Las Vegas, United States

  6. Amsterdam, Netherlands

  7. Miami, United States

  8. London, England

  9. Tahiti

  10. Delhi, India

- Rotorua Daily Post

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