Tatau: Sāmoan Tattooing and Photography Tatau: Tatau Sāmoa ma ata puʻe

This exhibition presents the work of four photographers who capture the dynamic practice of contemporary Sāmoan tatau (tattooing) over the last 40 years. 

The touring version of this exhibition features a curatorial selection of the works from the larger Te Papa exhibition in 2019. The four photographers are:

  • New Zealand photographer Mark Adams, who has followed Sāmoan tattooing families since the late 1970s, documenting the many and varied contexts for their work
  • Sāmoan Greg Semu, who began making his striking self-portraits in the 1990s, documenting his 25-year identity journey as a tattooed man
  • John Agcaoili, who was commissioned by the Japanese American National Museum to photograph the contemporary work of the present generation of Sāmoan tattooists for the exhibition Tatau: Marks of Polynesia (2016)
  • Angela Tiatia, who is an artist whose moving image work on the female malu malutraditional tattoo for womenMāori | Sāmoan innovatively explores the relationship between the female body as a fetishized object and her identity as a Sāmoan woman.

The exhibition is based on the scholarship developed for the Te Papa Press book Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing (2019)

Touring schedule

Whirinaki Whare Taonga, Upper Hutt 4 March – 28 May 2023
Tairawhiti Museum | Te Whare Taonga o te Tairawhiti, Gisborne  30 September – 11 December 2022
Millennium Public Art Gallery, Blenheim 9 April – 22 May 2022

Hosting enquiries

Jake Yocum
Touring Exhibition Manager
Telephone: 021595092
Email: touringexhibitions@tepapa.govt.nz