Indigenous tattooists from around the world to gather at Toi Kiri Expo

By Stefan Dimitrof

More than 50 indigenous practitioners of tā tatau, tāmoko and other cultural arts exponents, including weavers, and carvers, will gather in Tauranga Moana for the 11-day Toi Kiri Expo: World Indigenous Tattoo Culture Festival hosted by Te Tuhi Mareikura Trust.

Toi Kiri Expo director/curator Julie Paama-Pengelly (nō Ngai Te Rangi, Ngai Tū Whiwhia) said the practitioners would be coming from as far afield as South America, the Pacific, North Canada, Alaska and other parts of the USA.

There would also be Māori vendors, Māori food and Māori artists featured at the event.

Paama-Pengelly said Māori had led the way for other indigenous cultures to have the courage to embrace their traditions.

"I think a  lot of indigenous nations have regained their bravery and the incentive to revive their traditions, looking at what Māori have achieved in the last 35 years - so they look to us for leadership."

She said when the traditional tattooists had been embedded in tattoo festivals, the indigenous approach drew crowds.

The event this year will have a formal symposium for participants, with presenters talking about their practices, with guest speakers from varied academic and practical professions.

“The rest, the three-day festival, is a presentation to the public with music, dance, performance and everything else embedded in our cultural practices.”

“It would be awesome to have whanau from far and wide take the opportunity to meet these incredible people from overseas.”

The public part of  To Kiri will be held from September 23 to 25 at Whareroa Marae, Taiaho Place, Mount Maunganui.