Almost one in five New Zealanders has a tattoo, according to a new poll. And very few of those tattooed have any regrets about getting it done.

A Herald-DigiPoll survey of 750 people has found 18.2 per cent of respondents have a tattoo. Slightly more females than males have tattoos.

Of those with tattoos, only 9.6 per cent said they regretted getting it done. Males were more likely to have regrets, at 12.3 per cent, than females at 7 per cent.

"That all makes sense to me," said artist Otis Frizzell, who has done hundreds of tattoos and has many on his own body.

"I actually thought there might be a higher percentage of inked Kiwis but I suppose my perception could be biased because so many of the people I interact with have tattoos."

Of those poll respondents who had tattoos, 55 per cent said they had had the tattoo for 10 years or less.

Tattooing was undergoing a "huge renaissance", said Frizzell, son of artist Dick Frizzell.

"The old stigmas that were attached are dissolving very quickly. It used to be gang members, strippers and social undesirables with images that were often anti-social, but now that's all changed. That still exists but there is a new movement too."

Maori and Samoan tattoos were back with a vengeance, he said.

"I'm not talking about small or simple motifs. Big, beautiful, bold swirls and lines telling stories of genealogy and historical geography. Lawyers, All Blacks, young professionals all have something up their sleeve. Now respected members of society are getting inked."

Frizzell put the increase in tattoos down to the proliferation of genuine artists.

"It used to be just picking something off the wall and getting tattooed by some buffoon that could hardly spell his name.

"Now tattoos are custom-designed and inked by someone who cares about their craft, in a studio that has the same hygiene standards as a hospital.

"People are still getting bad tattoos though [either poorly done or bad design]. With a small amount of research, there's no need to end up with something that ... makes you look like the victim of a drunken stag prank."