The use of symbols to use or represent an ideas or qualities.
In August 2011, Tufuga Suluape Alaiva'a Petelo took residency at Auckland University to teach about the history of Samoan tattoos and about Samoa. Falaniko Tomaniko a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland decided he wanted to get a full-male tatau (also known as a Pe'a) but before he could go through with the process, he had to get his parent's permission.
At first his mother was worried about whether he could take it, the pain of the tatau is much greater than just a needle and of course as a mother, she worried for her son. Falaniko's father also worried whether he could take the pain because if his son couldn't take it and decided to stop half way through, he would embarrass not only himself, but his whole family.
The role of the apprentice to Suluape is to stretch the skin and prepare the cushions (To prevent aches) mats, clothes and tools. The tools are carefully washed each day to keep infections away. In the past, people have died of infection from the tools that haven't been washed properly. But now the only reason for sickness is if the person receiving the tattoo doesn't shower regularly.
The original ink was made by the Lama, the kernel of the candlenut tree. (Lama is the black dye and comes from the kernel of the Candlenut.) The Candlenut is burned, the soot is collected and it is mixed with the o'a to make lama. Suluape now uses a ink that is homemade by a tattoo artist in Florida.
Samoan Tatau are very beautiful when they are finished and are a great way to represent Samoan culture. Even though having a Samoan tattoo is a great way to represent, you don't have to get a tattoo for others to know you are a certain culture. You can show others but the way you talk, maybe in your culture's language, the way you dress and maybe just the way you act. There are many ways to use and show your culture and there are many ways for us to show that we are Samoan or Tongan or Maori. etc