Hawaii's First Traditional Tattoo Festival

GRACE Center at Kohala Institute

53-580 Iole Rd.
Kapaau, HI 96755

Hawaii’s First Traditional Tattoo Festival to be Held in Kohala

Free Community Events Will Showcase Traditional Tattoo Rituals from Pacific & Arctic Cultures Oct. 25-28 

Hawaii’s first Traditional Tattoo Festival will be held in the district of Kohala Oct. 25-Oct. 28, 2019. The four-day event features demonstrations by master indigenous tattoo artists from Pacific and Arctic cultures, a free opening evening of celebration, a free all-day cultural fair with traditional arts demonstrations, music, food alongside an admission-free tattoo documentaries film festival and a ticketed two-day symposium designed for traditional tattoo enthusiasts and practitioners alike.

Sponsored by Kohala Institute, and supported by grants from Hawaii Tourism Authority Community Enrichment Program and Hawai’i Council for the Humanities, the Traditional Tattoo Festival is a celebration of indigenous arts, vision and cultural resilience. The festival, with its diverse panel of international master artists, highlights ancient arts traditions shared by indigenous communities worldwide. 

Master practitioners and master artists include Keone Nunes of Hawaii; Lane Wilcken of the Philippines; Holly Nordlum of Alaska; Cudjuy Patjidres of Taiwan and Sarah Whalen Lunn of Alaska. Lars Krutak, tattoo anthropologist who hosted “Tattoo Hunter” documentary series on the Discovery channel, will share his experience of travelling the world to research and experience varied art forms of body modification.

Nunes, of Wai`anae, O`ahu, has been pivotal in reintroducing the art of the traditional Hawaiian tattoo, called kakau or tatau. His approach to this traditional practice is that of the sacred, one of spirit and transformation.

“Kakau gives mana (spiritual power) to a person. The tools (I use) are conduits and the experience is connected to the ancestors,” Nunes shares. “This gathering is extension of spirit. All who join us will be able to receive mana and transform.”

The Traditional Tattoo Festival begins with an opening celebration at 6 pm, Fri., Oct. 25, at the Blue Dragon Tavern & Cosmic Musiquarium across from Kawaihae Harbor. Guests will enjoy live music and local food with the opportunity to meet the festival’s invited master tattoo artists.

On Sat., Oct. 26, a free local fair from 9 am-3 pm at the Kohala Village HUB in Hawi will feature traditional tattoo demonstrations, arts workshops, food trucks, dancing with live music and a film festival of tattoo documentaries from throughout the world.  Designed for the entire ohana, this fair will also showcase kapa, lauhala and wood carving demonstrations.

A two-day Traditional Tattoo Festival symposium will be held Sun.-Mon., Oct. 27-28, at the GRACE Center, Kohala Institute, Kapa`au. Master practitioners will lead live demos and share techniques as well as their mana`o during talks that will include time for questions and discussion. The symposium will also offer storytelling, fireside `awa ritual and locally-sourced meals.

Cost of the full conference package, including opening night ceremony, meals, a tote and temporary tattoos and two days symposium entrance, is $200 before Sept. 15, $250 thereafter. Overnight accommodations are additional and available on site at the GRACE Center as well as through nearby locales including the Kohala Village INN, Hawi.

A conference day rate is also available: $30/day or $50 for both days (without meals, symposium registration, tote and overnight accommodation).

The Traditional Tattoo Festival is a long-held vision and dream of Joël Tan, event organizer and manager of the GRACE Center at Kohala Institute.

“The festival focuses on inclusivity. We hope to dissolve colonial divisions and reaffirm interrelatedness between indigenous peoples,” Tan says. “Given generations of oppression and cultural suppression across indigenous cultures, we now have a significant need to preserve and share traditional and ancient knowledge.”

Nunes affirms Tan’s thoughts.

“This is history. We now live during a time when Hawaiian people and those of indigenous cultures will experience a renaissance of culture and life, the emergence of even greater spirit,” Nunes shares. “The time has arrived for every person to flow within the currents of wisdom and spirit.”  

For registration and a detailed schedule of events, visit www.TraditionalTattooFestivalHI.com or phone 808.889.5151.

About Kohala Institute, a 501c3 organization:

The mission of Kohala Institute is to inspire the discovery and deepening of human connection through collaboration on behalf of a sustainable world. We nurture connection with land, universal values and aloha. 

Kohala Institute is an immersive environment within the 'lole ahupua'a. Its GRACE Center campus, with several gathering rooms and 80-person lodging, provides a powerfully neutral setting for intercultural exchanges between masters, students and enthusiasts.

Friday, 25 October, 2019

Other Dates For This Event:


Joël Tan

Phone: 808.889.5151
Website: Click to Visit


0 of 200 Spaces Requested

RSVP For This Event

Save this Event:

Google Calendar
Yahoo! Calendar
Windows Live Calendar

Share this Event: