Visitors to the city this week could be taking a slice of Rotorua home with them as Te Puia offers tā moko to delegates at Trenz.

The tourism industry event expected to bring more than 1500 delegates has been held at the Energy Events Centre this week hosted by Tourism Industry Aotearoa.

Arekatera "Katz" Maihi (Ngāti Whātua) has set himself up at the Te Puia booth, translating delegates' personal stories into unique works of art.

While a large tā moko can take many hours to complete, a 45-minute option has been created to ensure they have the opportunity to receive a tā moko of their own.

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Marcello Patelli from Brazil gets a tā moko at the Trenz conference at the Energy Events Centre. Photo / Ben Fraser
Marcello Patelli from Brazil gets a tā moko at the Trenz conference at the Energy Events Centre. Photo / Ben Fraser

"The buyers and sellers are just blown away we are sitting here doing it. I would say 98 per cent of these people have never been to a tattoo studio," Maihi said.

"Behind me is a Japanese man selling the Japanese market and he is sitting next to people getting tattooed. It kinda doesn't match up because in Japan it's a bit different."

Instead of being used for ritual or status purposes like in Māori culture, tattooed marks are known to be placed on criminals as a punishment in Japan.

"What I have been told is they will never tell you to put your tattoos away. They have so much mana they would never tell you to put your culture away, the rest of the world needs to take that on too."

Maihi has been busy, tattooing five people a day and believes the attraction comes from the uniqueness of the tā moko.

"It wasn't exactly about the Māori-ness, it was the uniqueness and the person gets to have their own special design drawn from their story."

As long as Maihi has something that stimulates the process of creation he said it was quite simple.

"We have to sit down and talk with them, try and get out of them what it is to mean.

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"Yesterday a Brazilian guy came in wanting a design that showed all humans are the same and I did that based off our culture.

"It looked Māori and yet the korero was international. It's relevant to everyone."

The Trenz conference is hosting more than 1500 people at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre and Te Puia are offering tā moko's right in the middle. Photo / Stephen Parker
The Trenz conference is hosting more than 1500 people at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre and Te Puia are offering tā moko's right in the middle. Photo / Stephen Parker

Today, Marcello Patelli sat down with Maihi for his first tattoo that now covers his left shoulder.

From Brazil, this is Patelli's first time in New Zealand and although he plans to come back, he has a piece of New Zealand forever etched on his skin.

"I never had the courage, not because of the pain but because of meaning."

But after a chat with Maihi and seeing the design he had created, Patelli fell in love.

He said it was a weird thing to do but, "It's better than a bungy jump".