In ancient times, knowledge was transmitted orally in Polynesia. The tatau Maohi was the only written means that allowed everyone to express his/her identity and to be informed about those of others. Through the patterns inked into the individuals’ skin, one could determine their social rank, sexual maturity and even their genealogy.
Pushed aside for many years following the arrival of the missionaries, tattooing made a strong comeback in the 1980s. Although it still reflects a cultural identity, it has evolved with the times to become a part of the worldwide phenomenon of tattooing in all its forms.