Their on-screen characters on Shortland Street do not have much to do with each other, but off-screen Pua Magasiva and KJ Apa like to talk ink.

Both proudly wear tattoos inspired by their Samoan roots.

Magasiva, who plays Vinnie, has two tattoos - one done on the spur of the moment while in Rarotonga.

"It was like a mindless thing that just happened when I was 20. I was shooting a film in Raro and I thought it would be cool to get one around my belly button."

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He asked the tattooist for something that incorporated Samoan patterns and had a meaning behind it.

"Because it's around the belly button, the meaning was like, that's your birthplace - the people of the sun." He is particularly proud of the piece on his arm.

One of five brothers - including fellow actor Robbie Magasiva - he and his siblings decided to have a family tattoo made up.

They even bought the rights to the design - the tattooist can never use it again.

"When we came from Samoa when I was young, we stayed with my mum's brother and his family.

"There's four boys in that family and we're all very close - so they have the same tattoo as well. It's pretty cool and special to us."

For KJ Apa, who plays Kane Jenkins, his tattooing experience came two years ago when the then 17-year-old travelled to Samoa with his family after his grandfather died.

"My dad's father was a high chief ... and the family agreed my dad would take over his chief title: Tupa'i.

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"Later, we decided to get a tattoo to commemorate that."

Apa's tattoo has specific designs unique to their village - Moata'a - and symbols representing their family.


KJ Apa

His sister had a design inked on a finger and his mother had one drawn on her back.

"I'd love to get my whole body tatted up. I love Polynesian and Samoan designs.

"The original plan was that this would be the start of a sleeve tattoo, but I think I need to get big arms first," he laughed.