Tattoos tell stories and now as part of a New Zealand Police recruitment campaign officers are sharing their ink stories.

Two Northland-based officers were chosen to be part of a video in which seven officers talk about the meaning behind their skin art.

Many tattoos have cultural meaning, showing strength or mana, or life experiences, bringing whānau together, with a connection to heritage and a majority of police recruits have tattoos.

New Zealand Police has launched a recruitment campaign around skin art in a bid to encourage more people to join the force, particularly 18-30 year-olds from Northland and Auckland.

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Police allow tattoos, but some need to be assessed to ensure they are appropriate and it is still one of the most commonly asked questions of the recruitment team.

For Kaitaia-based Constable Tepuhi Rudolph his tā moko shows memories of his family, including a sister who died of cancer tattooed as angel wings on the back of his neck.

"I moved away from my parents at a young age and the tattoo in relation to that talks of courage, independence and strength. I have a new one in progress which brings both my mum and my dad's side together. It also tells the story of the beginning of a new career as a police officer and the hurdles I had to finally graduate," Rudolph said.

"I have a younger sister and she passed away in 2017. I wanted to get something to represent her and angel wings represented her passing on. The angel wings will stay with me forever."

He said his personal experience meant he was able to relate to families who were grieving of the loss of a loved one.

Senior Constable William Paki waited a couple of years after he joined the police before he started inking his skin with his personal story. Photo / NZ Police
Senior Constable William Paki waited a couple of years after he joined the police before he started inking his skin with his personal story. Photo / NZ Police

Dargaville's Senior Constable William Paki is in his 19th year of policing, most of which has been served in Te Tai Tokerau. He waited a couple years after he joined the police before he started inking his skin with his personal story.

"Family is important to me. My tattoos are all about who I am. They tell a story, not just about me, but where my ancestors come from."

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His right side represents his Māori ancestors and on his left his Pacific Island story. As a child he was raised by his grandparents in Whangārei.

"When I go out to mahi my bloodlines keep me safe ... I have my ancestry behind me," Paki said of his tattoos.

He said working in Northland his tattoos helped him on the job when working with at-risk youth.

"It's been a really cool way that I have been able to connect with youth and they (tattoos) have certainly been a discussion point with young people. I've invested in the people and the community here and they are beautiful people."

Angel Pera, from the Far North, but now working out of the Henderson station has tā moko about her whānau, whenua and whakapapa. Photo / NZ Police
Angel Pera, from the Far North, but now working out of the Henderson station has tā moko about her whānau, whenua and whakapapa. Photo / NZ Police

Also featuring in the video is Angel Pera, from the Far North, but now working out of the Henderson station.

The young single mother, has tā moko about her whānau, whenua and whakapapa.
All of which contributed towards her journey and career with the New Zealand Police.

"I carry the mana of my tupuna (ancestors) wherever I go, this is where my strength and determination comes from."

If you are interested in joining police - with or without tattoos - or have questions about any of the recruitment process, contact www.newcops.co.nz to find out more.