Te Whare Toto Ariki


Traditional tattooing, known as tā moko, is a rite of passage amongst many Māori communities throughout Aotearoa.

The designs are derived from the natural environment which represents the history and origins of various iwi (tribes).

All manuhiri (visitors) are welcome to view the process inside the studio or talk further to our experienced kai tā (experts), before creating a piece that is significant to you and your whakaaro (story).    

For bookings or for more information



call 64 7 348 9047


Sky father Ranginui and earth mother Papatūānuku had a son called Rūaumoko whose twists, turns and attempts to escape from inside Papatūānuku’s womb created the currents that split the land, causing earthquakes. This natural process is what tā moko (Māori tattoo) traditionally reflects.

In historic times, tā moko (Māori tattoo) was performed by using an uhi (moko chisel) to split the skin before applying a dark pigment. The pigment was struck into the skin with small mallets known as tā. This hitting resembled the shaking and splitting of land to cause scarring.

The shaking


The current of energy (earthquake) which results in cracks and permanent lines


The scarring

What is Tā Moko?


Traditional Māori tattooing, known as tā moko, is a tāonga (treasure) to Māori people and culture. Manuhiri (visitors) to Te Puia can embrace personal stories in a meaningful way by receiving a tā moko here at Te Whare Toto Ariki.


At its essence, tā moko is all about connection. This means you’ll need to think about your personal story of connection to share with the artist - it can be between you, your whānau (family), your area, your environment or anything specific to your life. It could even be about grief, a fresh start or a life changing experience.


The Māori designs in tā moko are derived from the natural environment which holds history with origins from various iwi (tribes). Even if you’re not from a Māori iwi, the artist listens to your korero (narrative) and reaches back into their knowledge of designs and meaning to appropriately use concepts which bring to life your individual story.

the tā moko process


The tā moko process starts with a korero (conversation) between you and the artist about your story of connection, which is then transformed into a Māori visual representation drawn straight onto your body before it is tattooed. No design ideas are shown, as part of tā moko is trusting that the artist will create what you are meant to receive. Afterwards, the visual representations of the tā moko are explained by the artist.


We recommend booking at least 72 hours in advance (at least 24-hours notice required).

Three hour tā moko (Māori tattoo) blocks cost $960 and this price includes the admission of another person to be with you. The minimum time frame is three hours.

Body area timeframe examples:

Calf: 3 hours
Shoulder top to bicep: 3 - 6 hours
Full back: 15 - 21 hours
Chest: 3 - 9 hours
Ribs: 3 - 6 hours
Forearm: 6 hours
Full puhoro: 39 – 60 hours

*Please note: tā moko can be anywhere you like, these are just examples


Does it hurt? Can I take something beforehand for the pain?

Yes, it does hurt - but pain is part of the journey, so we don’t recommend taking anything beforehand. People go inward often, sometimes in a meditative state when the tā moko (Māori tattoo) pain is happening - they’re in a different realm and the artists enter their own realm too - it’s very focused.

Where doesn’t it hurt as much?

It hurts everywhere - but they’re just different types of pain. Also everyone has a different pain threshold. It is however, known to be least sore where the sun’s rays hit your body. For example the forearm is okay, however the inner forearm is more painful.

Can my history be too complicated?

No it can’t be - the artists prefer to have too much information, rather than not enough.

Do you do design requests?

No we don’t as this isn’t an everyday tattoo studio. Tā moko is a Maori craft and you’re not going to know what you get until it is finished. Even the artist doesn’t know.

How do I prepare my body for a tā moko?

The area will need to be hairless, so shave beforehand and make sure you arrive clean as it is a sterile space. Do not drink any alcohol 24 hours beforehand.


The Artist

Jacob Tautari (Jake)

Beginning his art journey in Tokoroa where he studied tā moko (Māori tattoo) for four years, Jacob then learned the art of whakairo (wood carving) at NZMACI graduating in 2017. He has evolved to become an established tā moko (Māori tattoo) artist with 10 years experience weaving comprehensive knowledge and kōrero with creative design linked to tribal traditions. Jacob has also worked internationally at Tuku Iho | Living Legacy in Washington DC.