Tattoo

Television, 2000 (Excerpts)

Tattoo explores the love-hate relationship many people have with this form of permanent body art. Stories range from those who are about to get a tattoo and those who are living with theirs, to those who want their tattoos removed altogether. The doco explores the devil-may-care approach of a tattoo virgin, as well as the quiet reflection of a tattoo veteran going through the long and painful removal process. Tattoo played in TV3's Inside New Zealand series.

Signatures of the Soul - Tattooing Today

Television, 1984 (Full Length)

Tattooing — "The world's oldest skin game" — is the subject of this documentary made by Geoff Steven who scored a major coup when he obtained the services of Peter Fonda as his presenter. Shot in NZ, Samoa, Japan and the United States, it traces the history of tattooing from Ancient Egypt through its tribal importance in the Pacific, to a counter culture renaissance that began in the 1960s. Leading practitioners (including superstar Ed Hardy) are interviewed and observed at work, while their clients wince their way towards becoming living canvasses.

The Last Tattoo

Film, 1994 (Excerpts)

This 1994 ‘home front noir’ is set in World War II Wellington, where the plots — a murdered marine, exploited working girls and gonorrhea — spread amidst the invasion of US soldiers stationed at Paekakariki. Kerry Fox (An Angel at My Table) is a public health nurse who becomes romantically linked with the US investigating officer (Tony Goldwyn — Ghost, TV's Scandal) while pursuing the STDs and the truth. They’re supported by Oscar-winning US veterans Rod Steiger and Robert Loggia. John Reid (Middle Age Spread) directs, from a Keith Aberdein script.

Savage Symbols

Film, 2002 (Full Length)

This documentary looks at the art of traditional Samoan tattooing, or pe'a, based around interviews with nine men who have the tattoos (which cover the lower back and upper legs). The film goes to Samoa to discover the history of tatau, and also interviews New Zealand-based Samoans with pe'a. They talk about the cultural significance of the tattooing, what it means to them, and about dealing with the pain of the long tattooing process, as well as the recovery period afterwards. The documentary screened at the 2002 NZ International Film Festival.

Skin Pics

Television, 1980 (Full Length)

A bold reveal of a rose tattoo opens this 1980 documentary on contemporary Kiwi tattooing. Then, a potted history of the practice punctuates visits to parlours on K Road and Hastings, plus the studios of industry legends Steve Johnson and Roger Ingerton. Interviews with tattooists and their canvases roam from stigma, the perils of permanence, and motivations for inking; to design tropes (sailors, serpents, swallows) and tā moko. Commissioned by TVNZ for the Contact documentary slot, the Geoff Steven film chronicles a time when “folk art has become high art.” 

The Living Room - First Episode

Television, 2002 (Full Length Episode)

Wellington band The Black Seeds present the debut episode in this TV series profiling creative Kiwi culture. They begin by going behind the scenes on their action-packed music video Hey Son (with Bret McKenzie donning a Captain Cook meets Freddie Mercury number). There’s an early profile of Auckland graffiti/ streetwear artist Misery (complete with cycle interview, and cameo from artist Elliot 'Askew' O'Donnell), London-based Ta Moko artist Te Rangitu Netana talks about life away from home, and tattooing Robbie Williams; and there’s a piece about skateboarding mag Manual.

Fresh - Jason Momoa and Wentworth (Series Three, Episode 16)

Television, 2013 (Full Length Episode)

This June 2013 edition of the TVNZ Pasifika youth show is presented by actor Robbie Magasiva from his base in Melbourne, where he has a role in Australian prison drama Wentworth. Elsewhere the Poly-plethora includes a visit by Pani (Goretti Chadwick) to Armageddon Expo in Hamilton to meet Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa. Pani makes the hard man with Hawaiian heritage blush, and gets the lowdown on his mako tatau. Niuean artist Kenneth Green also talks about his tattoo; Tiger and Raa visit the school principal; and reggae band Brownhill close with ‘First Love’. 

Loading Docs 2016 - 'Aka'ōu: Tātatau in the Cook Islands

Web, 2016 (Full Length)

This 2016 Loading Doc introduces a heavily-tattoed Englishman living in Rarotonga. Croc Coulter is an unlikely master of the traditional art of tātatau (tattoo); the documentary follows Coulter as he teaches the art form to an apprentice, Moko Smith. Coulter also lives with cystic fibrosis. It was directed by Robert George, who has Cook Islands Māori and Māori heritage, and a background as both a painter and in post-production work for the screen. The mini documentary was shared internationally; it also featured on National Geographic's Short Film Showcase.

Land of the Long White Cloud

Film, 2009 (Full Length)

Director Florian Habicht returns to his Northland home turf to chronicle the annual Snapper Classic Fishing Contest, in this full-length documentary. First prize is $50,000, but the participants chase the joy of the cast as much as the purse. The solitary figures on the epic sweep of Ninety Mile Beach provide poetic images, as Habicht teases out homespun philosophy while fishing for answers on love, the afterlife and whether fish have feelings. The soundtrack features 50s style instrumentals from Habicht regular Marc Chesterman, plus singalongs on the sand and at the local pub.

The Tattooist

Film, 2007 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Tattoo artist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr, American star of Roswell) travels the world looking for ethnic designs to exploit for his art. At a tattoo expo in Singapore, he is introduced to the traditional Samoan tattoo, and falls for Sina (No. 2's Mia Blake) the beautiful cousin of tattooist Alipati. When Jake recklessly steals a Samoan tattooing tool, he unwittingly unleashes a powerful spirit that endangers everyone he touches. This inaugural Kiwi-Singaporean co-production was directed by Peter Burger and produced by Robin Scholes (Once Were Warriors).