Tristan is of Te Rarawa descent, from the Hokianga in the far North. He is trained in Whakairo Rakau (traditional wood carving). He has been blending his knowledge of carving and Maori art over to the art of Tattooing. Tristan specializes in Ta Moko, Blackwork, pattern work, geometric and dot-work tattoo styles.

See more of Tristan's work: @manawa_tapu


A little about Tristan...

What makes you want to tattoo?

What about the art form inspires you to keep doing it? I became interested in tattooing through studying Whakairo Rākau (Māori wood carving). I started my apprenticeship knowing very little about tattooing but it has become an obsession that drives me to continue learning as much as I can about the art form. Tattooing connects me with my Māori heritage and allows me to continue practicing the patterns learned while at carving school. I am inspired by the work made by my ancestors with stone and bone tools. I could spend my life striving to attain their level of craftsmanship and hopefully contribute to developing traditional Māori arts and crafts into its future form.

What styles do you like doing most and what are your biggest influences?

And why? My favourite styles of tattooing are Tā Moko and tribal. I love the contrast between positive and negative space and how the patterns are drawn from the natural world. I am influenced by some of the Moko artists responsible for the revival of Tā Moko such as Gordon Toi and Mark Kopua as well as artists from overseas who have taken tribal and pattern based tattooing to the extreme such as Taku Oshima and Nissaco.

How would you recommend people should go about getting a tattoo from you? And what do you think makes a good tattoo?

If people are interested in getting Tā Moko then the consultation is done on the day of the tattoo so there is no need for a prior consultation. The process begins with talking to the client about what they want the Moko to represent. The designs are then drawn on the skin so each Moko is unique for the client's body. I think a good tattoo will look good forever. Tā Moko is a good style for this because the eye is drawn to the negative space and the tattoo will hold its shape forever