Tatau with a wahine touch

Tattooing used to be a male-dominated industry, but the women of Karanga Ink in Auckland are taking the lead and encouraging more females to join them.

After 13 years in the industry, Tuwharetoa ta moko artist Pip Hartley opened her own studio on Karangahape Rd, creating a place for females to pursue their passion and get on the guns.

Her friend, tatau artist Tyla Vaeau Ta'ufo'ou joined her, bringing her own Polynesian vibe and knowledge to the studio.

"It's a real privilege to work with Pip, who has been in the industry for a lot longer than I have and offers her own guidance and mentorship as well."

Both wahine see the artform as a way of life, not a job, but Pip says, it's a balancing act to give clients what they want while protecting the misappropriation of indigenous tattoos.

"There are a lot of people - especially in Europe - that are doing our patterns, doing what they call moko; but they don't always have the meaning. That's a big thing for me - if someone came in and just wanted something for egotistical reasons, I'd be inclined to decline."

Which Pip has done before, but Karanga Ink has an open-door policy - everyone is welcome and most of them come for the right reasons.

The Hui