Tatted: Polynesian culture treats ink as a family crest


This is Tatted, a podcast telling the stories behind people’s ink.
Graphic by Kat Owens

KAYLA DRAKE | Multimedia Producer

Rugby player, Penina Tuilaepa’s first and only tattoo is a homage to her family and culture.

Polynesian tradition in Samoa and New Zealand used tattoos to identify with specific tribes, now modern day Polynesians use their tattoos to represent their families.

Tuilaepa has the same tribal pattern within her tattoo as her brothers and father.

“We take so much pride in what we put on our body. You’ll never see a Polynesian with just random stuff,” she said.

Tuilaepa’s uncle tattooed her leg for her 16th birthday in his garage.

“We aren’t able to go into a tattoo shop anywhere else… it’s not meaningful if a Polynesian doesn’t do it,” she said.

For Tuilaepa it’s a way to represent her heritage both on and off the field.

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