6 Best Polynesian Tattoo Studios in Rarotonga

IslandAwe - 6 Fine Polynesian Tattoo Studios in Rarotonga

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If you are considering getting a tattoo, Polynesia is the place to go. Because that’s where this traditional Maori body art comes from. While living there, we came to know a couple of excellent Polynesian tattoo studios in Rarotonga, the capital island of the Cook Islands.

There are 6 great Polynesian tattoo studios in Rarotonga. Each of them with a specific background, style, and artist(s):  1. Kareha – Polynesian Art Studio, 2. Polynesian Tattoo, 3. Manuta’i Nanao – Tattoos by Marv, 4. T’s Tattoos, 5. Shade Hut Tattoo – Teitinga Ink Designs and 6. Tattoo Onda Beach.

Up next, we give you more details about each of these Polynesian tattoo studios in Rarotonga: Location, contact data, and info about the tattoo artists themselves, their heritage, and artwork.


1. Kareha – Polynesian Art Studio – Pacific Ink

IslandAwe Kareha Polynesian Art Studio

Location: Coming from Avarua town, the studio is located next to the Ocean Fresh fish shop, and about 200 meters before the airport.

Phone: +682 56636

Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Have also a look at the Website.

One of the superb Polynesian tattoo studios in Rarotonga. The owner is Stormy Kara, and she is working with Raniera Ellison.

About the artists:

Stormy Kara is the only female tattooer in the Cook Islands and very popular. She grew up in Palmerston on the northern island of New Zealand. Her uncle Tetini Pekepo, a Cook islands tattoo legend, was her teacher. Stormy started with Pacific Inc. and traveled back and forth between the Cook Islands and New Zealand over the years. So, her art represents a wonderful mix of both Cook Islands and New Zealand Maori culture styles.

In the same way, Raniera Ellison is a Cook Island/ New Zealand Maori artist based in Rarotonga. His tattoo artwork is a mixture of various Polynesian styles. He does a brilliant combination of contemporary and traditional art. Get an impression of his fantastic work on his Facebook site.

Both artists are most sophisticated when it comes to this body art. Straight forward, finely drawn clear structures, and not overloaded at all. And with a very modern interpretation of traditional patterns.

2. Polynesian Tattoo

IslandAwe Polynesian Tattoo

Location: In Avarua town, in the Punanga Nui Market area.

Phone: +682 53205

Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm & Saturday, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Get an impression of their artwork on Facebook.

About the artists:

Another perfect choice from the list of Polynesian tattoo studios in Rarotonga.

Owner Clive Nicholas and his team are an institution in Rarotonga when it comes to tattoos. Their Polynesian Tattoo hut is a busy and buzzy place, filled with tattoo lovers. It is not uncommon for the boys to discuss a tattoo design passionately together. The results are excellent, traditional Polynesian tattoos. And 100% custom-made for each client.

3. Manuta’i Nanao – Tattoos by Marv  

IslandAwe Tattoos by Marv

Location: In Banana Court, Downtown Avarua.

Phone: +682 73814 (Cook Islands) or +64 27 208 0839 (New Zealand)

See his artwork and more details on his Facebook site.

About the artist:

Marvin Akava combines Cook Islands arts and mixed Polynesian Tattoos, so-called Nana’o. He is living and working in the Cook Islands and Ashburton, on the southern island of New Zealand. 

Marv takes his time to get to know his clients and their tattoo ideas. Both things, in combination, find their way into outstanding and unique designs. This secures him a place among the best Polynesian tattoo studios in Rarotonga.

4. T’s Tattoos

Location: In Aroa, on the west side of the island. On the backroad, about 400 meters from Aroa Beach.

Phone: +682 52854

Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

About the artist:

T (=Tetini Pekepo) is of New Zealand Maori and Mangaian heritage. He is a tattoo artist from the very beginning, started in 1987. Besides, he visited many Pacific island states over the years. This journey gave him a deep insight into the various Polynesian arts. In his work he combines different old and new Polynesian styles.

He has an excellent reputation throughout Polynesia as a great traditional tattoo artist and clearly belongs to the group of superb Polynesian tattoo studios in Rarotonga.

Tetini also mentored his nice Stormy from the Kareha – Pacific Inc. tattoo studio.

5. Shade Hut Tattoo – Teitinga Ink Designs

Location: In Titikaveka on the south coast. On the backroad, about 500 meters from Tikioki Beach.

Email: teitingadesign@gmail.com

Check out his style of tattooing on his Website and on Facebook.

About the artist(s):

Jason Teitinga stands for the variety of influences that find their way into tattoo art. He and his wife are no less than of New Zealand, Cook Islands, Tahitian, and Samoan descent.

In addition to this broad Polynesian heritage, he has a passion for many traditional arts such as carving, drawing, and painting. All of this influences his tattoo designs and makes it one of the exquisite Polynesian tattoo studios in Rarotonga.

6. Tattoo Onda Beach (previously Raro Ink)

Location: On the beach, in a beach hut in Arorangi, on the west coast of Rarotonga. Opposite the Lagoon Breeze Villas. Look out for the A-frame sign that says “Tattoo onda Beach.”

About the artist:

Last but not least on the list of excellent Polynesian tattoo studios in Rarotonga.

Poly is another fantastic tattoo artist. He has been traveling a lot and working with heaps of other tattoo artists across Polynesia. His experience of decades of tattooing and insight into the traditional body art of entire Polynesia inspires his stunning work.

Also Interesting to Know: The History of Tattoos

What Is the Idea Behind a Tattoo?

Tattoos represent a person’s strengths and goals, or they tell stories from their life. The motif and its placement on the body have special meanings. In the past, tattoos were also used to identify a person’s origin or place in society.

Here you can get a deeper insight into the history and designs of traditional Polynesian tattoos.

IslandAwe Polynesia with compass

Where Does Tattooing Come From?

Tattooing is a central part of the culture of Polynesia. It started over 2000 years ago, and it is as diverse as its countries and inhabitants.

Tattoos are anchored in many South Pacific societies like Hawaii, French Polynesia (Marquesas & Tahiti), Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, and New Zealand Maori.

Abolishment & Comeback of Tattoos – In Maori “Tatau”

The Christian Missionaries, arriving in the 19th century, considered it as unholy and banned it. But many Polynesian tattoo artists kept their spirits and preserved their heritage over time.

These days, tattooing experiences a strong revival. 


You Might Also Be Interested In …

You can find heaps of information about Rarotonga and the Cook Islands in our Travel Guide of the entire Cook Islands.

For a better insight into the wildlife of the Cook Islands, here are 9 Important Fact About Animals in the Cook Islands. Some of these animals also have a special meaning in Polynesian tattoo art.

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