11 Aug 2011

Modern role of traditional Samoa tatau discussed at university forum

1:42 pm on 11 August 2011

The role of Tufuga ta tatau, or Samoan tattoo master, and other such heritage arts in contemporary societies have been discussed at a forum at the University of Auckland this week.

Su'a Suluape Alaiva'a Petelo, has just taken up a month long university residency, focusing on the preservation of tattooing as a heritage Pacific art.

He said tatau is the beginning of Samoan tradition, something he was taught by his late father, but nowadays not all parents pass on such knowledge to their children.

He says traditionally a Samoan man had to get his tatau done as a rite of passage.

"Right from the beginning, this word tatau was the beginning of our tradition. So it is really a must for all men, Samoan men, to be tattooed. It is an initiation into manhood. It's a mark of service."

Su'a Suluape Alaiva'a Petelo's tattooing of a PhD student and his brother is open for public viewing, at the university's Pacific Studies Fale, until August 19.