A group of international students at Waiariki Institute of Technology have come together in an entrepreneurial henna body art business that is proving increasingly popular, says communications lecturer Heather Vail, who thought up the initial concept.

The idea arose out of a business communications course Ms Vail taught in 2015.

"We had to do a practical assignment and I suggested we do something that was not just textbook, but hands-on and culturally appropriate," she said.

The henna tattoo project stall at the Rotorua Night Market was a success, she said. Towards the end of last year, students who had not been involved in the pilot project decided to revisit the idea and worked with Ms Vail to set up a regular stall at the Night Market, encouraged by customers and market staff.


The group named itself Rotorua Henna Ladies, and has added regular appearances at Rotorua's Saturday Soundshell market. The group has also done a number of events by invitation, including business, youth, schools and musical events such as the recent Wai-o-Tapu music festival.

The tattoos last from five to 10 days.

"Due to the cooler weather, we are now taking bookings out of a local salon in Springfield, Crazy Beautiful, as we prepare to do special white henna and coloured henna body paint designs for school balls," said Ms Vail.

The four artists - Sonia Mozahid, Nicole Pakau, Sandeep Kaur and Ms Vail's daughter Laleyna - bring together a range of cultures and religions.

"Henna is a trend that is just picking up in New Zealand and we are claiming it in Rotorua," said Ms Vail.

Ms Mozhaid, from Bangladesh, said demand for the group's tattoos was growing.

"We now have to keep going as the market is packing up because our queue is so long. So we have introduced booking."