Explore the Rich History of New Zealand Through Tattoos

Explore the Rich History of New Zealand Through Tattoos

There's more to see than just Flight of the Conchords and Peter Jackson. From Maori tattoos to the adorable kiwi, we love New Zealand!

Get ready to see the world with our new series, Globetrotting. No passports are necessary, we'll help you learn about an exotic land as you explore it's history and iconography through tattoos, right from the comfort of your screen. First stop, New Zealand! 

In the southwestern Pacific Ocean lies a mighty country that is its own continent – Australia. Nine hundred miles to the east lies New Zealand, which, let’s face it, the rest of the world kind of looks at as Australia’s kid brother.

New Zealand is mainly comprised of two large islands. The Maori named them Te Ika-Maui and Te Waipounamu. The creative white man called them North Island and South Island. Both the capital city of Wellington and the most populous city, Auckland, can be found on the North Island. There are also about 600 smaller islands that are technically the country of New Zealand, but it doesn’t seem like anyone cares that much about them.

New Zealand was first settled by Polynesian seafarers in the 13th century. Over the centuries, these people developed their own distinct culture and became known as the Maori. The Maori created a rich cultural tradition of tattoos — the markings of which are visually distinct among tribal tattoos — that lives on to this day.

Like all tropical paradises, eventually white people found New Zealand and sort of ruined it. In 1642 Abel Tasman became the first European to lay eyes on New Zealand. Two short centuries later, the whole system of islands was firmly considered a British colony. As is often the case, the arrival of Europeans correlated to a major decline in the native population due to disease and murder.

The local populace wasn’t the only thing decimated by the white man. The geographic isolation of New Zealand has led to a largely distinct biodiversity, including some beautiful plants and animals found only on these Pacific islands. Sadly, the arrival of Europeans also set off a wave of extinction, and many forms of life found only on the islands of New Zealand disappeared forever.

These days, New Zealand is a highly developed nation and ranks near the top in many quality of life metrics. Queen Elizabeth II is the country’s head of state, as the country remains under British dominion. We don’t have a source for this, but we are pretty sure the major export of New Zealand is Peter Jackson films.

There’s so much in New Zealand to inspire a great tattoo. Here’s a look at some tattoos that honor the great Pacific nation.

New Zealand is so much more than Australia’s kid brother. It is its own world, a beautiful country teeming with life and culture. These tattoos illustrate just a fraction of New Zealand’s rich history. To learn more, visit your local library, or just visit New Zealand.

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