As an expression of Kiwi individuality and identity, there’s nothing better than copying other Kiwis and scarring your arms, torso, ankle or (for the real hard-outs) neck and face with a ‘sort-of-pacific‘ design, picked from the wall of a K Road tattoo-parlour, after 15 cans of Lion Red and a double-dare, on your 21st birthday.

As a rule, the more likely that the tattoo will look horrifically out-of-place on either a) your wedding day, b) an important job interview some years later, or c) your sagging skin when you are a grandparent, the better.

Also popular, a map of New Zealand. Useful for reminding recent immigrants that they weren’t ‘Born Here’, or finding your way home at the end of an OE.

So why does New Zealand seems to have a such an affinity with ‘body art’?  Sure, you might find the occasional, pretty young girl in the UK, Denmark or Canada, with a large, colourful spider tattooed across her lower back, or the words ‘F**k’, ‘C**t’ and ‘S**t’ emblazoned on her forehead, but in Aotearoa, you literally can’t move for them.

Although heavily influenced by, the majority of Kiwi tattoos are not to be confused with either the Maori moku (sic) or Polynesian body tattooing, which are a cultural rite of passage or indicator of social status, and, therefore, actually mean something.

Yet this influence does lead to a curious lack of debate about the merits of body-art on the rest of the population. All tattoos are regarded as earnest expressions of patrotism, mana, and cultural identity (even on white stockbrokers from Herne Bay), and to criticise that, bro, shows a deep lack of respect for our pacific heritage, language and customs. Which is practically treasonous, and probably a bit racist too.

In addition to the above, tattoos favoured by New Zealanders of neither Polynesian nor Maori descent usually aim to achieve one or more of the following results;

  1. Make the wearer appear to be of Polynesian or Maori descent.
  2. Make the wearer look like Robbie Willams.
  3. Make male wearers appear more macho, to conform with the butch, Kiwi male stereotype.
  4. Make female wearers appear more macho, to conform with the butch, Kiwi female stereotype.
  5. Piss off the wearer’s Mum
  6. Piss off the wearer’s girlfriend’s Mum.
  7. Show what music the wearer was into 20 years ago.
  8. Show what motorcyles the wearer was into 20 years ago.
  9. Show that the wearer competed for New Zealand at the Olympic or Commonwealth games.
  10. Show that the wearer wants you to think they competed for New Zealand at the Olympic or Commonwealth games.