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Inside Tattooing

Television (Full Length) – 2012

In the 1950s and 60s tattoos were reserved for sailors, circus performers and 'jailbirds'. Narrated by actor Joel Tobeck, this documentary focusses on a group of ex-inmates and gang members who discuss the importance of tattoos in New Zealand gangs and in prisons. In the 1950s prisoners used needles and ink to mark jail time with 'tear drops' under their eyes, but in the 1980s gang insignia started to dominate prison tattoos. Stan Costar is proud of his prison tā moko, and fellow ex-inmate Robert Marriner undergoes a professional tā moko to celebrate his Māori identity and acknowledge his painful past. 

Amazing what some of the fullas did with a single needle on those, detail to the max...
– Professional tattooist Paratene Johnson on some of the amazing 'old school' prison tattoo designs

Key Cast & Crew

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Glenn Elliott

Director, Producer

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Karen Bunting

Associate Producer

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Shelley Quinn

Associate Producer

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Craig Wright

Additional Camera Operator

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Rachael Hennessey


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Niki Hiini


See all 16 credits

Produced by

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Buto Productions