Posts Tagged ‘North Kohala’

Did this yesterday. It is done in Ana’ole with modern Marquesan and modern Maori elements. To state pride for his homeland he wanted the piece to center around the sun found on the Filipino flag. I wanted the piece to remain cohesive and often when adding other non-Poly elements things can go sideways quickly but I am happy with the way it all turned out.

From the bottom of the piece, moving left to right, there are 2 niho that help to add strength to the next series of motifs, hikuhiku atu, or bonito tails, representing his family lineage. These triangular shapes are rudimentary enana (men) that are holding up the motif of the sun. The upside down ‘U’ shaped object in the second paka of hikuhiku ata, is an i’ima, or, hand, that is holding fast the bottom portion of the tattoo to his arm. Next is the motif, mekau, or fish hook, which represents his ties (literally) to Hawaii. Next to the hook is a small flame, or, ama kopeka, representing light. There are multiple koru, and hope vehine motifs scattered around to represent new life, growth, the cycle of life, and divine protection.




Here is a link to an article in Pain Magazine by Darin Burt on my shop. So very thankful to Darin and Pain Magazine for the exposure. The story can be found on pages 30 and 38. Woot!

Ta and Ku’au 2.0 completed! Shaped the handles, then sealed lightly. Finished the aluminum but did not polish to a shine because I like the worn look. I’ll be making 6 more (4 ta, 2 ku’au) and will experiment with different wood types and ergos for the handle. Am already designing 3.0 which will be made from hollow stainless. Woot!
In the next few days I will also be uploading an argument on how I think Marquesan full body tattoo relates to armor. It is pretty lengthy (5-6 pages) so be warned! Since I only have one day off this week and I just spent half of it finishing the Ta and Ku’au, I am not going to go to the beach and enjoy the rest of the day. All work and no play makes me a dull boy, for sure. Peace!

Here is a piece that I did yesterday. It is Marquesan and Ana’ole style. It was constructed to represent the warrior nature of this individual but it also has protection elements as well as family.

It is becoming common practice for me to post work and identify the individual components so that the collector can reference my blog at his/her leisure to familiarize themselves with the symbols.

So, here we go!

Just a note on the terminology, I will use the Marquesan term before the Hawaiian term. Example: Marquesan word/ Hawaiian word.

a- Etua/akua, this godling or ancestor symbol is meant to impart sacredness to the tattoo.

b- Mata hoata/maka nui, this symbol represents the face, eyes, nose and mouth (in this case a row of niho peata/ niho mano, or shark’s teeth). It is essentially another set of eyes which act as protection as they are on constant alert for potential danger.

c, d- Niho, the symbol of a tooth. This symbol adds purpose to the piece as a protection element, meant to ‘bite’ or deflect any potential danger. The large niho is augmented by 5 smaller niho, a number in the Fibonacci sequence (FS).

e- Etua/akua, this symbol is placed in the back ground of the piece as a whole and only half of its body can be seen.

f- Ku, god of war. This Ana’ole symbol is at the top of the hierarchy of this piece and represents the foundation of the tattoo. Ku is seen here with three niho mano (shark teeth) behind his eye, representing himself, his wife and son. The warrior symbol, koko atu, which is a derivative of the Maori face moko, is found on the nose and cheek. The later curl reflects the Golden Ratio (1:1.6)

g- Ihe, spear. This symbol is placed on Ku’s head and represents the warrior spirit. It is inset with 8 niho, again in FS. This coincides with the 5 niho below, since 8 divided by 5 = 1.6 which is the Golden Ratio.

h- Papua, garden or enclosure. This symbol corresponds to symbol ‘o’ below, which completes this circuit. This symbol is open to accept mana (power) while ‘o’ is closed to  enclose the mana once obtained.

i- Poka’a, this is symbol is represents a device used to carry heavy burdens and is a strength motif.

j- (Row of) Hope vehine, this symbol represents twin sisters. It is a protection symbol as well as a sign of the divinity of the tattoo since the sisters (in Samoan myth) brought the art of tattoo to Polynesia.

k- Opea/manu. This symbol is of the tern or sea bird. It is a symbol represents divinity and heaven.

l- Aniata/ Ao. This is a symbol that represents clouds or heaven. It is a complimentary symbol that brings divinity to the area tattooed. it was also used as a symbol of defiance.

m- Kohe ta, sword. This is a symbol of the warrior and is shown here inset with two rows of niho.

n- Ama/ ahi, (billowing) fire. This is the symbol of fire or flame.

o- See ‘h’ above.

Aloha and peace!

I had the chance to use the prototype ta that I made last week, today. I really enjoy using it. It does take much more time than a modern machine, but the work is gratifying on a different level. It took a few strokes to get accustomed to the balance, and the way the skin grabs the needles was interesting, but all in all, I really felt good about it.

This niho took about an hour. I think that with time I will be able to get faster, but it may come at the expense of the patient. In this case, she didn’t experience any more pain than she does during tattoo with a machine.

I realized that I also need to make some minor modifications to the ta itself, and am now considering a design with an asymmetric handle and curved shaft, that would place the striking surface on the apex of the curve. I also need to add an anchor point for the thread that I now use to hold the ink reservoir in place on the needle shaft. I will add those changes to the next evolution of ta which I am currently working on.


This client returned after a five year break and wanted to get some traditional Marquesan tattoo, to complete his leg. We were adding to work that I had done some five years ago. He wanted some specific motifs and I worked with those images while trying to stay true to the ‘fortification’ arrangements of traditional Marquesan tattoo. The motifs included are: mata hoata, poka’a, ka’ake, vai o Kena, kohe ta, etua, ipu oto and hope vehine. When I have some time I plan on posting my thoughts on the mata hoata, or Brilliant Eyes; what inspired it and how it was used. In this tattoo, the mata hoata motif is at the top right of this picture. Aloha and peace!

Ku is one of the most diversified of Hawaiian deities in respect to having many facets to his character, which over time were considered separate gods embodied in one, so to speak. Ku was considered the male element and counterpart to Hina who represented female energy. Both were ancestral gods of heaven and earth who controlled the prosperity of the earth and the generations of mankind to come. Ku also presided over all male spirits as Hina did female.

Again the issue of dualities arise where you have an entity that oversees life but is also a progenitor of war.

Who said that the early Hawaiians weren’t a complicated bunch?

The word ku also means, “to stand, to rise, to extend” while hina means, “to lean down or to fall” which corollate to their respective male and female elements, respectively.
Ku was also considered the god of the forest and rain, god of husbandry, god of fishing and god of sorcery, among many, many others but he was primarily worshipped to produce crops, to bring forth food from the land, to bring about good will, and to kick massive amounts of ass when such things were required.

I just got back from holoholo on Maui.
What appears to be a collection of chicken nuggets, is in fact my friend’s back and his new  tattoo. It is an upper back/ shoulder piece that is nestled on top of an already existing tribal piece. Because of the shape of the tattoo already there, I opted not to design this piece as paka. Paka are essentially the ‘slices’ of tattoo design that conform to areas of the body and are defined by borders of either artwork or shading. Paka are designed to be added to, much like pieces of a puzzle. Traditional Polynesian is based on the paka usage, albeit in a very regimented and defined fashion. Ana’ole does not have to fit into a specific shape and can actually be more open than a traditional piece. When designing a piece in this way, it is called, pauku ,which means section. If a piece does not have paka, it is a pauku. However several paka can also make up a pauku. Confused? Read on.
This tattoo was to celebrate the life of my good friend Brad’s mother, Susan. She loved Bob Marley’s song, Three Little Birds and Brad wanted something that involved birds. After much discussion, and by that I mean drinking, we arrived at a something that would utilize the birds to illustrate Susan’s journey through life.
We decided on the ‘iwa bird because it is an animal that can travel vast distances.
Brad wanted the bird to represent the stages of life and death, and so the story moves from right to left across his back/shoulders. Because the ‘iwa represented his mother, the image changes as it makes it progression across his back.
Beginning with his right shoulder, the bird is solid black and seen flying over the aina (land). The aina is represented by three plants, the sword fern/kupukupu (life, growth, overcoming adversity, because it can grow in lava rock), red ginger/awapuhi (impermanence, cleansing) and aloe (healing, catharsis). All three plants are set into a’a lava rock.
The ‘iwa is following a current of wind which blows over the sea, represented by three waves inset with FS. The bird at this point is grayish as it begins to journey onward. becoming ‘lighter’. It is positioned at the base of his neck.
On his left shoulder are three stars which overlap one another. This symbolizes Susan’s journey into the heavens and is reflected in the ‘iwa by making the bird ‘white’ which is really just the color of Brad’s skin. The progression is meant to convey the journey from the land of the living (tangible) to the heavens (intangible)
Because Brad has spent much of his life frolicking in the surf sans sun screen, his shoulders have become sensitive and we could not finish the piece (it had nothing to do with the shader, promise!). As it sits it is at 90%.
We also used Susan’s ashes in this piece.
Love you, brother!

One of my clients flew in from Utah to get work done, assuming that I would be around (I never go anywhere!) and available. He called yesterday to set up an appointment for this weekend and was disappointed to hear that I would be on Maui for a week, starting today. We worked into the night to give him this add-on to a honu piece that I had done for him earlier. In the end we were all happy and this is his tattoo. I told him to look me up on FB next time he wanted to surprise me!
This tattoo is about his love for Kohala. The niho mano at the top of the wave symbolizes power (kohala is brimming with mana), the wave itself representing the northern portion of the island, set into the waves are the kohala mountains and momi (pearls) set in a FS. Below the turtle are palm fronds symbolizing the royal nature of Hawaii as the birthplace of ali’i, also set with FS.

Enjoy Dave!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 8:28 AM HST

A piercing scream sends a flock of birds into the sky, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of a zip line in use: Part giant zipper, part angry hornet. The rider becomes increasingly smaller as she travels swiftly down the line toward the landing platform. Her family applauds as she touches down on the structure.

“That was pretty awesome,” said Karyse Lee, a visitor from Alberta, Canada, as the guides unclip her harness from the line. “Can I do it again?”

That was the question on everyone’s mind that day, and for good reason — zip lining is addictive. Now, thanks to a newly opened business in North Kohala called Big Island Eco Adventures, all those adventurous, adrenaline junkies have a place to get their fix.

“It was all quite serendipitous,” said Big Island Eco Adventures office manager and co-owner Shawn Simon, when asked why, with the current economic situation, she and her partners decided to start a business of such magnitude. “We just had to trust the process. That, and we want to make people happy.”

At a time when usage rights for much of the tourism-oriented land in North Kohala, owned mainly by a large overseas company, are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, Big Island Eco Adventures, or BIEA, secured access rights through several private landowners.

“It was all based on the availability of the land. We had this venture planned for some time, but the determining factor was definitely access to the area,” Simon said.

Inspired by other zip line companies currently operating in the state, such as on Maui and Kauai, Simon and her husband, Jay, along with another couple, Randy and Elisa Andrews, decided the time had come for them to make a paradigm shift away from their day jobs and commit full-time to their new collective endeavor.

Needless to say, they hit the ground running.

Click Photo to Enlarge

Top: Adam Beckman, of Beatrice, Neb., left, receives final instructions from guide Haaheo Neves before his first zip. Bottom: Visitors are transported in a Pinzgauer, an old Swiss army vehicle that is ideal for the drive up to the site where the zip lines are located. – Photos By Anna Pacheco | Special To West Hawaii Today

At the forefront of BIEA’s philosophy toward the environment is conservation. While constructing the 150-acre course, all of the trees felled were processed, milled on-site and then used to construct landing platforms, bridges and a quaint gazebo-like structure where guests can relax and enjoy refreshments while on their zip line adventure. Because of this, the structures have an unrefined, natural look that blends in nicely with the surroundings.

Another critical component to BIEA’s philosophy is to hire directly from the area community, utilizing the knowledge of the residents to ensure that the tour retains its distinctive Kohala flavor.

Guide Haaheo Neves, said that this is the best job she has ever had.

“I still work at the King’s Shops for now, but once things get going I want to work here full time,” Neves said. “It’s so fun, I never get tired of being outdoors.”

Another guide, Justin Terry, keeps it simple — “I love my new office.”

Click Photo to Enlarge

Left: Stewart Hartfield, of Alberta, Canada, cheers for his wife, Darlene Hartfield, as she zips over the treetops. Right: Guide Justin Terry, right, is at the end platform, ensuring a safe landing for Adam Beckman, of Beatrice, Neb. – Photos By Anna Pacheco | Special To West Hawaii Today

BIEA requires their guides to be certified in first aid and puts them through a monthlong safety course ranging from dealing with apprehensive riders to midline retrieve and rescues.

The history of the zip line is one that isn’t easily defined, although many agree that the practice probably began sometime during the late 19th and early 20th century. It was utilized by Tyrolean mountaineers as a means of transporting people and goods around hard to reach, high altitude living areas.

A modern zip line is markedly superior to what was used in the past and is generally made from either galvanized or stainless steel. The cable’s diameter can vary and the thickness is used to determine the ultimate load the cable will allow. The cable is fixed at both ends, in this case to large, old-growth trees, which serve as anchors.

Riders wear a full-body harness, which the crew at BIEA painstakingly fit to each person at the base yard. Attached via carabiner to the harness is what makes the zipping possible, a heavy duty trolley, which is basically two small, steel wheels that lock onto the main zip line cable. Once the rider is clipped onto the line, it’s all down hill from there — literally. The act of braking is performed by the guide at the other end of the line, who uses a line break mechanism to slow swiftly approaching riders.

BIEA insists their policy of wearing a helmet is probably overkill considering the already stringent safety code they operate under, and the protection they offer is mainly for the six-wheel drive Pinzgauer, which transports up to 10 people to the course, which is two miles off-road from the main highway. It can get a little bumpy, but then that’s also part of the adventure.

There are eight runs at the BIEA course bordering the Kohala Forest Reserve, which range from short 200 feet long, 10 feet high “keiki” runs, to the more adrenaline surging 950-foot runs that are well over 300 feet from the ground. The size and weight of the rider ultimately determines top speed, which, no matter the size, is never slow. Waterfalls and breathtaking views are in order for those not fixated on just making it to the other end.

Darlene Hartfiled, visiting from Alberta, Canada, was enjoying her second time on a zip line, her first taking place in the jungles of the Dominican Republic.

“They were surprisingly safety oriented,” she said, of her first-time experience. “But this is much nicer. Much more to see.”

First-timers father and son, Bob and Adam Beckman, visiting from Nebraska, also plan to skydive as a family. “This is great fun. I could do this all day long. Do you think they’ll let us?”

The last run is near 1,000 feet, which takes the rider high above the forest canopy. The biggest difference between this one and most of the earlier runs is that there is no launching or landing platforms. To take off the rider is basically required to step off of a high cliff. Stopping requires the rider to do a bit of running as they make their approach.

“Make sure you scream to let the tour behind us know how much fun you’re having,” Terry told the group.

By the sound of it, everyone was having a blast.

BIEA is currently running four tours a day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Capacity for each tour is 10 people, adults or children. The cost is $159 per person and the four-hour tour comes complete with light refreshments and full outfitting. BIEA is currently running a daily tour in conjunction with Paradise Helicopters, which also includes a helicopter ride. Riders are recommended to wear closed toed shoes and knee length shorts or long pants.

BIEA also offers kamaaina rates. Call the main office at 889-5111 to make reservations, or visit the Web site,