Neighbourhood Series: An Interview with Hine, Owner of Hinerewa Art Tā Moko Studio
Becoming a tā moko tattoo artist is no easy feat, but that didn’t get in the way of Hine even while juggling a full-time nursing career and parenting several children. During a recent visit to her new Hinerewa Art Tā Moko Studio in New Brighton, she shared her inspiring story of becoming a tā moko artist and some words of wisdom for aspiring artists.
When her children were young, Hine started her visual arts degree to learn and build a career in the world of fine arts. “Art has been my light and passion for as long as I can remember,” she said at the beginning of our discussion. “I was always set on becoming a tattoo artist as I knew it’s where my passion lay and was excited to learn more about the intellectual and cultural history and study something I love.”
Having young children at the time, her trajectory to become an artist took a slight pivot. “As a parent, I needed to find work to care for my children so I switched degrees and earned my bachelor’s in nursing with the sole purpose of shelving art until I could get back to it.”
Hine worked long shifts while trying to balance being a mom and keeping her art practice strong. Fortunately, her dedication to studying Māori design and practising whenever and wherever she could paid off. A few years into her nursing career, she earned a mentorship opportunity with Riki Manuel, a nationally recognised Māori carver and moko artist and someone Hine looked up to for a long time.
Tā moko is the Māori art and practice of creating permanent markings to reflect an individual’s whakapapa (ancestry) and personal history. It’s a form of art primarily for those of Māori blood and descent, while Kirituhi is for those of non-Maori heritage. Growing up Māori, Hine always had a strong sense of pride in her whakapapa. Seeing old photos of her mom’s side of the family and learning more about Māori history growing up, she was drawn to tā moko and ecstatic about the opportunity to learn about the traditional practice from someone with over forty years’ experience as a Ngāti Porou artist.
“It was such a huge honour learning about the unique, complex and beautiful traditions of tā moko from Riki as well as Christine Harvey – an inspiring female Māori tā moko artist. Not only did they teach me the principles of Māori design, they showed me the power of exploration of my own artistic expression.”
After a few years, Hine left her job as a full-time nurse to spend more time at home with her children and focus on tā moko. Between caring for her young ones, she continued practising and eventually opened a private practice at home. “Looking back on my first tattoo, I was so ridiculously nervous even with Riki was right by my side,” she said. “It was exhilarating and felt so surreal.”
Fast forward to 2022 and Hine is still doing what she loves in her brand-new studio in New Brighton. She purchased the space at the beginning of 2022 and spent two weeks renovating to provide a warm, welcoming and safe studio for her clients. “I sacrificed so many hours and have worked really hard to get here. It all felt worth it as soon as I saw the name being put up on the door.”
Hine’s process to design a hand crafted tā moko tattoo typically begins with an in-person or online consultation. This is an opportunity for the client to share the ideas they would like her to incorporate so she can sketch something that’s representative of their unique story. Māori tattoos are often a visual representation of whakapapa, so most of her clients share the design with their families before returning to the studio for the final appointment.
Every line is purposeful and meaningful which is something Hine loves most about the practice. With most of her clients being female, she explained that her style has naturally become more feminine and elegant while showcasing mana wāhine.
“Women weren’t always allowed to practise tā moko so I was definitely a bit apprehensive to go down this career path because of preconceived notions. I’d say being able to put in the mahi is the most rewarding part.” When asked about any words of wisdom she’d give to aspiring artists, she said “don’t take no for an answer and practice, practice, practice.”
Head over to Hine’s Instagram to explore more photos of her incredible work or take a trip to 82 Estuary Road in New Brighton to pop into her new studio.
New Brighton is where Hine calls home. She loves being on the outskirts of the city centre and within walking distance to the stunning beaches. Check out a few of her favourite places in the area below.
Most visited place
Go to cafe
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