Giant Jonah Lomu tattoo charges through social media

  • 21/01/2017
Mike Henderson tattoo jonah lomu new zealand
Kiwi man Mike Henderson says the response is "overwhelming" (Supplied/Mike Henderson)

When Kiwi man Mike Henderson decided to get a giant Jonah Lomu tattoo, he didn't expect it to take off and charge through social media streams.

But it has, trampling other photos underfoot on its way to over 10,000 shares.

"It's quite overwhelming the amount of attention it's got. I just had it done about two days ago - on Thursday," Mr Henderson says.

"It's just overwhelming. I'm not a huge one for social media. All through today, I keep getting messages from friends - I think it's got over 10,000 likes from sites, it's been shared more times than I could remember."

Mr Henderson says the lifelike quality of the tattoo is due to the skill of his tattoo artist.

"The artist was a tattoo by the name of Steve Butcher. He's an Auckland boy, pretty long waiting list, he specialises in portraits like the one I got," he says.

"He's a very talented artist. I've had a number of tattoos in the past, but his method of drawing the tattoo is something I've never seen before. He outlines all the features before starting, and the use of colour and his technique before doing the tattoo is unique."

He got the tattoo because of the special place Mr Lomu has in his life.

"There's a sentimental value - watching the 1995 World Cup with my group of mates when he ran over everyone, it conjures up the good times being with mates - he brought me a huge amount of good times," he says.

"He also was a fighter, a battler, a very humble sort of guy. I respect him as a player, as a man, and for representing NZ."

But it wasn't until he travelled that Mr Henderson realised how important Mr Lomu was to New Zealand's image.

"I went to South America in 2002 and as soon as I showed my Kiwi passport the first name anyone said to me was Jonah Lomu," he says.

"I realised just how much of a global superstar he was. Everyone's asking me if I knew Jonah - it was almost like a free pass though Argentina."

Getting the tattoo done was a long process, and it wasn't all easy.

"The tattoo took pretty much six hours. The first hour was him doing the tracing and the outlines. We probably took a good 45 minutes doing the tracing first, and after that it was just a good five hours doing the tattooing," he says.

"Like most tattoos there was a little bit of pain. I suppose coming to the fifth hour I started feeling it for sure. But for the result I got I think it was with it."

And he says the response has been extremely positive.

"Overall it's been quite flattering and very humbling for people to write and tag me and Steve Butcher in the comments," he says.

"I met a Polynesian woman while I was out. She squeezed my arm and said 'you've bought Jonah back to life.'"