Untouched flesh hard to find
Flesh, of the unmarked variety, was in noticeable short supply on the weekend as tattoo, piercing and body art aficionados gathered in Hamilton to celebrate their art.
Skimpy shorts and sleeveless tops were the order of the day as an estimated 8000 people descended on the Claudelands Events Centre for the International Tattoo and Art Expo.
Perhaps it was the warm weather, or maybe a desire to be seen, but it appeared every second person had a tattoo, piercing or body part on show.
Sisters Lacey Turner, 20, and Amber Turner, 26, of West Auckland, said tattoos had achieved mainstream acceptance in recent years and were no longer the domain of "criminals and prisoners."
However, the sisters said not everyone was accepting of their ink work.
Lacey said she had missed out on a few job positions because of prospective employers' attitudes to tattoos.
But she had few regrets.
"It's nothing they've said, but it's pretty obvious from the way they look at you. You can tell some people are negative towards tattoos simply by the way they stare."
Lacey, who got her first tattoo - a chest piece - at 16, said she had spent several thousand dollars on the ink work.
Her advice to anyone thinking of getting inked was to do their research "and shop around."
"I tell people don't just go into any random shop. Look around and make sure you go through tattooists' portfolios".
Amber said a recent visit to the United States had inspired her latest series of tattoos but was always on the lookout for new ideas.
"Events like this give you a chance to see what's out there and look at others work. I see it as an artform and something to appreciate."
One 70-year-old stall owner, who would only give his name as Ken, said tattooing was one part artform, one part storytelling. He described his tattoos, which covered most of his upper-body, as "a collection of pictures" whereas others tried to tell a story with their artwork.
"When you get talking to other people, who realise their tattoos tell their live story; about the places they've been and the people they've been with."
Also on display were the skill and daring of roller derby teams, the Ghouls and Mystery Machine.
Roller derby organiser Fe Foster, aka Miss Metal Militia, said the sport had evolved in recent times from a spectacle to an "athletic sport".
"Originally roller derby attracted a lot of outcasts and people you'd consider misfits, people who weren't you, your mums or netball players. Now we attract everyone and it's a real fast-paced sport."
Meanwhile, Nikki Campbell, of Auckland, was crowned Miss Tattoo NZ.
Ms Campbell, 33, said the majority of her artwork was done by her husband, tattooist Greg Campbell.