The youngest of four girls, Kara, 29, has opened her own Polynesian tattoo studio to carry on what she remembers as her uncle’s work.
Kara says the love of art lies within everybody and everyone has a story to tell.
“It was at the end of June that I managed to get the business running. What I do cannot be called unique because there are a lot of people on the island who are designing and applying Polynesian tattoos.
“As long as I can remember art has always been my creative outlet. At the age of 17 I relocated from my home in Palmerston North, New Zealand to the Cook Islands.
“Here I began my apprenticeship with my uncle Tetini Pekepo as a tattooist (tatatau, tatau, ta moko.”
She eventually opened Pacific Ink Polynesian Tattoos and remained on Rarotonga until 2010.
“From there I then returned home to New Zealand to reconnect with my family and this time I began my journey into whakairo, or carving.
“I studied under Te Wananga o Aotearoa to obtain a Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts, majoring in whakairo.
Five years of study saw her advance her skills with the help of influential mentors Tom Bishop, Craig Kawana and Hohepa Peni.
It also led her into a friendship and partnership with fellow graduate Mitchell Tareha and wife Georgia Larkins-Tareha, henece the name of the new venture, KareHa Ltd.
“It’s a name coined by combining our last names ‘Kara’ and ‘TereHa’ reflecting our friendship, the breath of life we received when we entered into the world of toi Maori.”
In June; on her 29th birthday Kara and her four-year-old son returned to Rarotonga and began the next stage of their lives, re-immersing themselves in the local culture and reopening Pacific Ink under the umbrella of KareHa.
“I love to take my clients’ stories and beliefs and incorporate them into tattoos using our Polynesian motifs or other styles.
“With toi (art) as our language, the future looks promising.”
Kara says she has always strived to be the best she can be at her art and is comfortable in the creative world. She counts herself lucky her parents supported and nurtured her creativity.
And she says if you find something you really want to do in life, everything is worth giving a go.
KareHa Pacific Ink tattoos start from $80.00, with final costs depending on the size and the intricacy of the designs.