The Lonely Planet rates Rotorua (and alright, Auckland too) as the second best places in the world to ink your skin. Only the Buddhist Monks in Thailand get a higher rating and their tattoos are said to bestow the wearer with mystical strength and good luck so that seems fair enough. In New Zealand traditional ta moko represent a person’s identity, origin and bravery. It’s like a history on the skin for those who know how to read it. Globus Tattoo on Pukuatua St offers a modern, bright, clean open studio and they’re committed to giving their clients an exceptional experience; from the initial consultation, to the delivery of design and of course the finished tattoo. At the end of the procedure you get a copy of your tattoo with full interpretive notes of how the composition and symbols relate to your own personal story. They say international travellers, intrigued by the country’s special culture are often their best clients, compelled to take home a permanent souvenir of their New Zealand experience. At Moko 101, a ta moko studio and art gallery on Hinemoa St, Hohua Mohi and partner Phillipa Moore are staunch about ta moko saying it’s more than a job, it’s a way of life and philosophy they are grateful for “We respect moko and in return it gives us a living.” They do ta moko and only ta moko. Phillipa says every design is unique because it is guided by the wearer’s story and it’s up to the practitioner to interpret that story into ta moko. She says people come from all over the world specifically to them and she puts the growing popularity of ta moko down to its integrity and depth and of course the very appealing aesthetic of a beautiful ta moko that fits the wearer like a second skin.