An intricate tattoo of a tui with pohutukawa flowers by a Tauranga tattoo artist has won a national award.

Norton Hollows, of Bohemian Tattoo Arts, spent 15 hours on the tui tattoo, slightly smaller than an A4 piece of paper, which was drawn from a photograph.

The incredibly detailed tattoo sits on Otumoetai man Trevor Masters' right arm.

Mr Hollows specialises in realistic and abstract tattoos, so the opportunity to work on Mr Masters' tattoo appealed.


The small colour tattoo award, judged at last weekend's New Zealand International Tattoo and Art Expo, was the first tattooing award Mr Hollows had won. He said it was a cool award to win, but he thought Mr Masters was more excited about it than he was.

Mr Masters said Mr Hollows had completed other, pieces for him in the past.

"I wanted to get something big, I wanted a Kiwiana-type tattoo. I got ideas from some friends and slowly but surely came up with the idea of a tui with pohutukawa flowers.

"Norton found a picture of a tui in pohutukawa flowers and he changed it and made it better than the original picture. Then he spent hours and hours putting it all together. It exceeded my wildest dreams."

Mr Masters said the enthusiasm Mr Hollows had for the project shone through.

When Mr Hollows mentioned the upcoming convention, the men arranged to catch up and, on Sunday, entered the competition.

Mr Hollows was in the middle of completing another piece when his name was announced over the loud speaker.

Mr Masters said Mr Hollows' partner Emma Kerr won the tattooist of the day award as well.

Upon seeing Mr Masters' new tattoo, the most common comments were about how realistic it looked and that it looked more like a painting.

"That's why I believe Norton took out the competition. It's so realistic. I'm not boasting, that's what I keep hearing from people."