Tattoo News - December 2001
Well you may be surprised to get a newsletter from me at this point, as I am supposed to be gallivanting around New Zealand until December 18th. Well my trip was cut short as I got quite ill and was forced to return home 5 weeks earlier than planned. The timing was especially frustrating-- it hit two days before the start of the tattoo convention. I flew home the day of the official opening and went straight to Kaiser Hospital, only to find it was chicken pox, of all things. I was down and out here for a week or two and am now up and about a bit. Able to get to my computer at least.
It was still not a bad trip. New Zealand is a beautiful country, and this time I did get to see a fair amount of it. The focus was scenic-- as all the cultural events were to take place during the second half of my trip. But if you know me, you know that I'm always tuned in to the artistic and cultural aspects of a people and how they relate to the social and political state, so it wasn't totally a scenic tour. We did see a lot of art-- museums and galleries, as well as a few artists' workshops along the way. Many of those we saw/met do not have websites & visa versa, but here's some links so you can take your own virtual tour and learn something of Maori culture.
In a small town called Nelson on the northern tip of the South Island there is an annual Wearable Art Competition. This started in the '80's as a very small event and has really taken off. The week before we arrived they had the grand opening of a new multi-million dollar permanent facility to display the collection as well as provide storage & studio space. It is a fantastic, fun place! See http://www.wearableart.co.nz/ If you can't check out the museum, at least check out their website (although it is new & still under development). If any of you have friends/family in New Zealand ask them if they recorded it. This last year's competition was aired on NZ television on Dec. 1st. And if there is some kind person out there in Aotearoa reading this that's got a spare tape of it, please send me one!
Here's a link to a travel page that has a bit of information on Maori culture, some good photos, and a description of Tamaki Cultural Village-- http://spas.about.com/library/blrtamaki.htm?IAM=sherlock_abc&terms=tamaki. I should say that I've never had a strong desire to see Rotorua, as I've seen plenty of geysers and volcanic areas in my time & the cultural centers have always sounded like Disneyland or the Polynesian Cultural Center to me. Well, to some degree they are, but it was well worth seeing. I admit I tend to be a bit skeptical of the cultural establishments with a touristic bent, but there are some positive aspects worth noting. While Tamaki and a couple of the other culture centers are reconstructed villages (very much like the PCC in Hawai'i) that seem to have been constructed solely for the purpose of tourism, there are several others that offer performances and hangi (lu'au type feasts) on actual functional marae within the community, which impressed me. Regardless, these performances & cultural centers keep the arts alive. They provide a venue for youth to learn haka, music and dance, as well as the crafts and history of the Maori. And better yet, they provide employment! One can make a decent living learning, performing and perpetuating the culture! This view has been criticized by some, especially in Hawai'i where some feel that many of the tourist performances are prostituting the culture. In Tahiti, most serious dancers/drummers that have been at it for any length of time readily admit that it was because of the boom in the tourist economy that they took up dancing. The tourist trade has done a lot to perpetuate the arts, whether we want to admit it or not. Also see http://www.culture.co.nz/
A very interesting article on cultural copyright well worth reading is also at http://www.culture.co.nz/ then link to "Ban likely on trademarks found offensive to Maori". If you read this, you will understand why I occasionally attempt to steer clients away from a particular design & sometimes even refuse to do a tattoo. I've been accused of being overly culturally sensitive, but if I find a design offensive, I'm SURE that there are indigenous people out there that would too! Some examples from Hawai'i that irritate me: the Ku image on macadamia nut boxes; actual petroglyph images on jewelry and other items and molded mini statuettes of heiau images for sale en mass at ABC stores. On Rapa Nui (Easter Island) pisco bottles are molded into the shape of moai. Now that I think of it, there were some pretty offensive tourist items for sale in NZ too, like plastic molded tiki images (made in transparent green to look like jade) on cheap serving utensils. I guess there's a long way to go-- in all Pacific cultures. The Maori seem to ne at the forefront in this movement-- it is likely to continue & spread! The question is where do you draw the line? In my mind it's massive commercialization. One individual getting a tattoo might bring bad karma, but putting Ku on millions of macadamia nut boxes is another thing altogether.
While were on the subject of cultural copyright & sensitivity, check out
http://www.digitalus.co.nz/mokomokai/index1.html and learn something about the repatriation of the mokomakai, or preserved Maori tattooed heads. It's pretty fascinating! I could elaborate here- but better you read it for yourself.
For more about Maori tattoo (moko) see http://www.tamoko.org.nz/
The new National Museum in Wellington, Te Papa, has a website at http://www.museum.co.nz/default.asp. You can shop online & remember the US dollar is equivalent to about $2.20 in NZ dollars. The Auckland war Memorial Museum's website is at
Here's some pretty good links to arts & cultural organizations, as well as a lot of galleries, shops & artists on the web. http://www.maori-arts.com/index2.htm Also check out http://www.creativenz.govt.nz/artsnz/pacific.html and http://www.waikato.ac.nz/library/resources/nzc/04maori.shtml
If you want to read a great on Maori art & "artifacts" look for First Light: A Magical Journey by Carol O'Biso. I read it years ago & really enjoyed it, and passed it on to my travelling companion for whom this was her first exposure to Maori art & culture. It's a good, amusing introduction, and there is a hidden tattoo connection here. Search on http://www.bibliofind.com or go to http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/search-handle-url/ix%3Dfixed-price%26fqp%3Dbrowse%0168293%02title%01first%20light%3A%20a%20magical%20journey%26nsp%3Dstore%01zshops-rare-books%02referring-site%01bibliofind/002-4115929-8156018
My upcoming schedule:
note: These dates are CONFIRMED
now until January 22nd - home on O'ahu
January 24th to February 6th- San Francisco
February 9th to February 20th - Los Angeles
There is a POSSIBILITY I will try to squeeze in a trip to San Diego after LA, but I need to know NOW how many San Diego people there are that are SERIOUSLY interested, please let me know ASAP if that's you! Call me at (808) 734-8677, but please keep in mind the time difference & don't call before 11:00 am, CA time.
If you are interested in an appointment during my upcoming California trip, contact me & sign up soon! The sooner, the better as the more time we have to correspond & work on your design. The last possible deadline to sign up is no later than Jan 1st for a guaranteed appointment, but SIGN UP EARLY! For details on how to sign up, see http://www.tattootraditions.alohaworld.com/tattootraditions/schedule.htm