Wednesday 15th August saw the launch at Unity Books of a significant release from Te Papa Press, ‘the first publication to examine 3000 years of Sāmoan tatau’. Tatau: A Cultural history of Sāmoan Tattooing by Sean Mallon and Sébastien Galliot is a magnificently presented record of Samoan tattooing culture and tradition from earliest records up to the present day. It was a busy night with a shop full of customers as well as visiting dignitaries, contributors to the book and practitioners of tatau visiting from across NZ.
Nicola Legat, publisher at Te Papa Press, was on hand to introduce the book and its author Sean Mallon, Senior Curator Pacific Cultures at the Museum of NZ Te Papa Tongarewa. Sean first acknowledged the work of his co-author, anthropologist and ethnologist Sébastien Galliot who sadly could not attend the launch. Sean went on to thank the design and editorial team at Te Papa Press and the many artists featured in the book who had traveled from far and wide to be present on the night, welcoming them up to the front to receive a round of applause. Sean shared memories of working on the project and spoke of his experience as a person of mixed Sāmoan and Irish descent writing about a tradition which has been shaped by local and external forces over many centuries. Carmel Sepuloni MP, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and Associate Minister for Pacific Peoples, took the mic next to officially launch the book, dispensing with her prepared speech to give a characteristically warm endorsement to all involved in producing the book. Last to speak was Bronwyn Labrum, Head of NZ and Pacific Cultures at Te Papa who gave another round of hearty thanks before getting the signing underway.