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Dedicated to art of tatau

Saturday September 03, 2016 Written by Published in Hot on the Rock
Kara puts the benefi t of years of experience and dedicated learning into every tattoo that she does. 16090217 Kara puts the benefi t of years of experience and dedicated learning into every tattoo that she does. 16090217

DESPITE having grown up in New Zealand, Stormy Kara did not hesitate when the opportunity arose for her to return to her island home to continue her work in the world of Cook Islands body art.


The youngest of four girls, Kara, 29, has opened her own Polynesian tattoo studio to carry on what she remembers as her uncle’s work.

Kara says the love of art lies within everybody and everyone has a story to tell.

“It was at the end of June that I managed to get the business running. What I do cannot be called unique because there are a lot of people on the island who are designing and applying Polynesian tattoos.

“As long as I can remember art has always been my creative outlet. At the age of 17 I relocated from my home in Palmerston North, New Zealand to the Cook Islands.

“Here I began my apprenticeship with my uncle Tetini Pekepo as a tattooist (tatatau, tatau, ta moko.”

She eventually opened Pacific Ink Polynesian Tattoos and remained on Rarotonga until 2010.

“From there I then returned home to New Zealand to reconnect with my family and this time I began my journey into whakairo, or carving.

“I studied under Te Wananga o Aotearoa to obtain a Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts, majoring in whakairo.

Five years of study saw her advance her skills with the help of influential mentors Tom Bishop, Craig Kawana and Hohepa Peni.

It also led her into a friendship and partnership with fellow graduate Mitchell Tareha and wife Georgia Larkins-Tareha, henece the name of the new venture, KareHa Ltd.

“It’s a name coined by combining our last names ‘Kara’ and ‘TereHa’ reflecting our friendship, the breath of life we received when we entered into the world of toi Maori.”

In June; on her 29th birthday Kara and her four-year-old son returned to Rarotonga and began the next stage of their lives, re-immersing themselves in the local culture and reopening Pacific Ink under the umbrella of KareHa.

“I love to take my clients’ stories and beliefs and incorporate them into tattoos using our Polynesian motifs or other styles.

“With toi (art) as our language, the future looks promising.”

Kara says she has always strived to be the best she can be at her art and is comfortable in the creative world. She counts herself lucky her parents supported and nurtured her creativity.

And she says if you find something you really want to do in life, everything is worth giving a go.

KareHa Pacific Ink tattoos start from $80.00, with final costs depending on the size and the intricacy of the designs.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Libby Tuesday, 18 April 2017 21:09 posted by Libby

    Kia orana Kara
    I'm in Raro for 2 months, and I've been thinking about having a tatau. I have a couple of ideas, but would really like to meet you to tslk about it further before making a decision.
    Where can I find you?
    I work during the week, but could visit you after 4pm or in weekends.

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