Kōkiri 26 – Te Whanganui ā Tara: Exclusive Tattoo Design Studio for Porirua Mall

Published in Kōkiri 26, Ngahuru - Autumn 2012

Edgy retail design store, Revolution Aotearoa, recently launched an exclusive tattoo design studio in their retail outlet at Porirua’s North City Plaza, one of the first to open in a suburban mall.

Of Ngāti Raukawa, Te Ati Awa, and Te Rarawa iwi, Wiremu Barriball says the migration of moko into the suburbs where people live, shows the traditional art form is returning to its roots.

“Tā moko is becoming more socially acceptable and that’s awesome, because this is Aotearoa. Back in the day tā moko, traditional tattooing was everyday, normal stuff,” he said.

The studio will also act as a hub for guest tā moko artists visiting the capital. A successful international design entrepreneur whose talents were utilised during the Rugby World Cup last year, Wiremu Barriball has been supported by Te Puni Kōkiri’s Māori Business Facilitation Service and says advisers help open your eyes and give you other points of view.

“In the actual moment when you are focused on your work it may not seem a lot – especially when you are looking for funding – but it is about the wider scope, skills you need, networking, people you should meet and getting exposure,” he said.

Often working until the early hours of the morning, he says fledgling business owners have little time to develop relationships and Te Puni Kōkiri helped link him with other people, markets and ideas.

As well as his Revolution Aotearoa retail outlet and online store, Wiremu has been designing and overseeing the production of upmarket street wear with a distinct Māori and Polynesian flavour. Unable to find domestic producers who could create the high-end product he wanted, a decade ago he headed to Putian in China’s Eastern Fujuian shoe producing province. His unique products are now retailing in New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii where the response has been so good his agent is running out of product.

“Māori have a proud heritage of trading and entrepreneurship and Wiremu is a role model for fledgling businesses considering international markets and opportunities,” said Te Puni Kōkiri Māori Business Facilitation Services Director, Jim Wilson.

“Wiremu told us his advice for others has been to expect the highs and the lows. Planning and being passionate about what you are doing helps you through the rough times.”

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