Town leaves its mark on mayor

INKED: Dale Williams has a stylised depiction of the district he was mayor of tattooed onto his arm.
INKED: Dale Williams has a stylised depiction of the district he was mayor of tattooed onto his arm.

Dale Williams is known in Otorohanga for wearing his heart on his sleeve. His heart is in the King Country town he has served as mayor for three terms and which he leaves in October.

Yesterday Williams all but finished having a complex tattoo representing the district etched onto the sleeve of his left arm.

It was his fourth visit to Cambridge Bodyart, in Albert St, where tattoo artist Peet van Dijk put the finishing touches to the work which had taken a year to conceive and 24 hours to realise.

"I have been getting tats all of my life, I have lots all over my upper body, so it's something I had been thinking about for a long time," said Williams, who ran motorbike dealership Team Otorohonda for 19 years, and is the proud owner of a Harley-Davidson.

The placement of his latest tattoo will leave others in no doubt that he is a colourful character in more ways than one.

When he leaves Otorohanga after the local body elections in October he is going travelling with his wife and family.

"I had the concept and Peet did the design. When I leave Otorohanga I want to take something of it with me."

The end result is a symbolic, rather than literal, collage of colour with identifiable elements.

"I did not want people to understand it just by looking at it and I want them to have to ask what it means. Most people want to know the story behind a tattoo. I want people to ask me while I am overseas travelling."

There's a kiwi for Otorohanga Kiwi House, Buzzy Bee for the town's Project Kiwiana, Pohutakawa for Kawhia Harbour, a waka to recognise how tangata whenua arrived, a railway track for the main trunk line, a pouwhenua for the carved Maori pole depicting ancestors on the Otorohanga Village Green, all set against a green background for the farmland and the outline of Mt Pirongia where a shining sun and its rays stand in for Williams and his family.

"It's fantastic, but tats aren't for everyone so I ran it by my parents and my wife first," Williams said.

"They were okay with it. I've spent between $2000 and $3000 on it."

Williams warned others who were considering getting a tattoo to take plenty of time over the design, as some tattoo studios were keen to get the ink out as soon as potential customers came though the door.

He didn't know of any other Waikato mayors with tattoos, but thought he might ask around at the next mayoral forum.

Brian Hanna, mayor of the Waitomo district to Otorohanga's south, said he had no tattoos.

"If I did I suppose it would have to involve sheep," he said.

"I am going to regret saying that. It would also need a shearer and the river."

Hugh Vercoe, Mayor of the Matamata-Piako District, was also unblemished by tattoos.

"There would be so many good things about Matamata-Piako District I would not have a body big enough to put it all on. It's lucky that Dale is short."

Alan Livingston, Mayor of the Waipa district, also has no tattoos.

"If I had to have one it would be the Olympic rings which would recognise Waipa is the home of champions, not just sporting."

Julie Hardaker, Mayor of Hamilton, is also inkless but is understood to be attending the International Tattoo and Art Expo at Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton on February 23 and 24.

Waikato Times