Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Preview – Tatau: Sāmoan Tattooing and Photography

Friday 8 November 2019, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Join us for this free and exclusive preview of Tatau: Sāmoan Tattooing and Photography (Tatau: Tā Tatau a Sāmoa ma Ata Puʻe / Te Tatau: Te tāmoko Hāmoa mā te hopu whakaahua) before it opens to the general public. This exhibition showcases 4 prominent photographers work on the art and process of Sāmoan tattooing as featured in the highly successful book Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing.

We will have access to gallery for a whopping 5 hours so please come any time you like. At 12:15pm we will be joined by Curator and lead author of Tatau, Sean Mallon, for a 30 minute talk and tour of the exhibition.

The 4 photographers:

Renowned photographer Mark Adams has documented Sāmoan tattooing in New Zealand since the late 1970’s. His connections with his subjects are displayed through the intimate domestic settings within his photographs. Adam’s images portray tatau in suburban New Zealand; within living rooms and garages, on bloodstained cushions and mats.

Greg Semu, a New Zealand born Sāmoan photographer has created striking self-portraits documenting his 25 year journey as a tataued man. Beginning as a street photographer capturing the lives of the growing Polynesian community in Auckland, Semu went on to document his own tatau, capturing the lines and designs of his unique journey. Semu’s work has also expanded to restaging historical events by incorporating his tattooed body in the reimagining and retelling of cinematic landscapes and religious iconography.

Based in California, photographer and cinematographer John Agcaoili has documented the work of the present generation of Sāmoan tattooists, many of whom use tattooing machines. The selection of portraits included in this exhibition shed light on tatau as an evolving art form, contextualising the ancient lines of tatau within a contemporary tattooing studio and urban settings.

Within her work Walking the Wall, artist Angela Tiatia explores the relationship between the female body as a fetishized object and her identity as a Sāmoan woman. By openly displaying her malu (female specific tattoo) within this moving image work, Tiatia confronts a Sāmoan cultural taboo while embracing symbols of female sexuality and challenging gender stereotypes.

Please note this event is open to members of the Friends of Te Papa only. If you’re not a member join here today. If you are already a Friend of Te Papa, please remember to bring your membership card with you on the day for entry.


Image credit: Greg Semu, Front of pe’a, Nouma Kiriau, 1994, gelatin silver print. Purchased 2019. Te Papa (TMP035038)


Friday 8 November 2019
10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Event Categories:
, , , ,


Toi Art, Level 4, Te Papa
Te Papa, 55 Cable Street
Wellington, 6011 New Zealand
+ Google Map


Friends of Te Papa
(04) 381 7051