Tattoos are the best form of expressing one’s culture and identity using body art. Maori tattoos are one of the widely practised patterns by many tattoo artists all over the world. Maoris are a group of tribes that originated in New Zealand. In 1769, Captain James Cook and the naturalist first saw the Maori tattoos while they were on a voyage to the South Pacific. They were fascinated with the intricate designs and quite intrigued by them. The fascination continues as people in modern times continue to wear them. In this article, we shall explore some unique Maori tattoo designs for tattoo inspiration.

History and Significance of Maori Tattoos:

Maori tattoos are called Ta Moko in the native language. They were considered to be symbols of strength, power and courage. The number of tattoos inked spoke for the person’s achievements and status in his community. Maori tattoos were also a reminder of their responsibilities towards their people, and getting a tattoo inked was considered a great privilege. Both men and women used to get these tattoos done. While men used to get the inking done on areas like the face and buttocks, women’s tattoos were done on the chin, lips and shoulders. The original Maori tattoos were done using the bones of Albatross birds using a permanent pigmented ink from the Carui gum and other roots mixed with oil. Read on to explore some of the best Maori tattoo images.

Best Maori Tattoo Designs and Meanings With Images:

Some of the best Maori tattoo meanings and symbols have been listed in the following paragraphs.

1. Maori Chest Tattoo Design:

Maori tattoos are brilliant to look at and even more innovative when done to cover a portion of the chest. This is one of the Maori tattoos for men and is a combination of several Maori symbols and signs such as Celtic signs and knots, the human character, parts of arrows and much more worked out in such a great way. The tattoo also has touches of red along with the standard black, which makes it look very bright; another thing is that it does not cover the whole chest but just the upper line.

  • Best for: This Maori tattoo design is best suited for men who have warrior qualities and wish to fight their way out to get on to the top
  • Preferable ink: This tattoo is best done in black ink colour with hints of brown ink
  • Where: This lovely patterned tattoo starts from below the neckline to the upper chest and is made up of various geometric patterns
  • Size: These types of tattoos are made using a group of small patterns to form a large tattoo design
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for wheat skin to fair skin tone.

2. Marquesas Cross Maori Tattoo Design On Foot:

The Marquesas Cross is a famous Maori symbol. It carries tremendous significance and tries to identify the balance between elements and harmony. Some archaeological studies also say that the cross is connected to the turtle shell. However, we must not overlook the beauty of this tattoo. It looks stunning on the skin and gives you an ethnic and traditional look. This is one of the best Maori tattoos for females.

  • Best for: This is a delicate Maori tattoo for women due to its size and simplicity. The cross represents the zeal to achieve harmony and happiness in life.
  • Preferable ink: This tattoo is preferably done in black colour
  • Where: This lovely tattoo is best done on foot, but you can also get them done on your hands and neck.
  • Size: Small and medium-sized tattoos look perfect for these designs
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for light and fair skin tones.

3. Leg Maori Tattoo Designs For Boys:

Maori tattoos are the best form of tribal designs; the best ones need no particular space to be inked on. These tattoos indicate physical strength and achievements. They are made with several geometric patterns created symmetrically to indicate balance and harmony. Common patterns include weapons, talent in a particular sport, prosperity or health. This is one of the best Maori tattoo designs.

  • Best for: Maori leg tattoos are perfect for men with athletic legs. They use complex, elaborate patterns to indicate physical strength and courage.
  • Preferable ink: The tattoos are preferably done in black ink to make the patterns come alive
  • Where: These types of patterns are done on the back of the legs to represent physical strength
  • Size: You can opt for medium to large-sized tattoo designs for maximum coverage
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for light and fair skin tones.

4. Mid-Length Maori Tattoo Designs:

If you are looking for Maori tattoo ideas, this is one of the best patterns. This particular tattoo is a microscopic view of Maori society. It is made using elaborate patterns of the tents and the people and represents their way of life. These tattoos are usually preferred by people who understand the Maori’s way of living and take immense pride in their roots. Tattoos of such patterns are pretty complex and challenging to achieve due to the intricacies of details and the perfection with which the symmetry needs to be completed.

  • Best for: These types of Maori tattoo patterns are preferably done by Men of good strength and age. They are a reminder of all the sacrifices and deeds done by their ancestors.
  • Preferable ink: Maori tattoos are usually done in black or dark green coloured inks
  • Where: Get them done on your biceps and arms to flaunt these amazing tattoos
  • Size: Depending on the surface area, you can choose a medium or a large-sized tattoo design.
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for medium to fair skin tones.

5. Human Symbol Half-Sleeve Maori Tattoo:

“Enata” is a Polynesian word which means humans or God. It represents life, birth and experiences. Sometimes it is also used to express relationships such as marriage, friends and relatives. However, reversed data could symbolize the presence of an enemy. Different designs and choices are available for those who want one specific tattoo design.

  • Best for: Enata tattoos are ideally done by men to represent their relationships with family and friends. These are very complex designs and must be done with care.
  • Preferable ink: Black is the best-suited coloured ink for such types of tattoos
  • Where: These tattoos are best done on the arms and biceps. These Maori forearm tattoo designs also can be on the chest.
  • Size: A large-sized tattoo design best captures the details of these tattoo patterns
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for medium to fair skin tones.

6. Girls Maori Tattoo Designs On Thigh:

It is not true that tribal and Maori designs are only meant for men because women do it in grand style and love them to the core. Suppose we talk about this kind of Maori tattoo design. We will be able to see how a woman is flaunting her thigh tattoo in style. It combines red and black, and the Celtic patterns and slight floral touches make it look so beautiful. So the girls and ladies out there come out of the box and try something new. Try one of these very stylish Maori designs the next time!

  • Best for: This lovely Maori tattoo is custom-made for women who wish for good health and happiness. They are made using attractive patterns to symbolise female beauty.
  • Preferable ink: These exquisite patterns are created using black and red coloured ink.
  • Where: Thighs are the best spots for these tattoos. You can also get them on shoulders or even as armbands.
  • Size: Depending on the placement area, you can choose between a medium to a large tattoo.
  • Skin tone: These designs suit medium to fair skin tones.

7. Lizard Maori Tattoo Designs On Back And Chest:

In Polynesian culture, lizards or geckos represent a God-like figure. It is an essential part of Polynesian beliefs and ideals. They are known to guard against all kinds of diseases and misfortunes and deliver people from enemies. The lizard tattoos are indeed very unique and creative in appearance. They are usually done on the upper parts of the body to indicate respect for the animal.

  • Best for: These tattoos are ideally done by men who wish to safeguard their families and close ones from enemies.
  • Preferable ink: Gecko tattoos are best done in black colour or even brown inks
  • Where: They are done on the back or on the chest area to show their respect and honour to the humble animal
  • Size: You can opt for a medium to large-sized tattoo, depending on where you wish to get it placed
  • Skin tone: These designs suit light to fair skin tones.

8. Full Body Maori Tattoos:

Full-body designs are prevalent when discussing highly traditional Maori tattoos. This is because, for tribal people, body art is a perfect way to flaunt their culture. It is shocking to see the sense of art they possess despite staying in such wild regions where nothing and almost no sign of civilization have reached as yet. This tattoo is an excellent example of fantastic body art where it is like a whole story which people can see on your body, and it is a challenge for tattoo artists to get this in the proper place.

  • Best for: Full-body tattoos are best done on bold men strongly connected to their roots. They used their bodies as a canvas to narrate the story of the Maori culture.
  • Preferable ink: Full-body tattoos are best done in black, with hints of colour to highlight.
  • Where: As the name indicates, these tattoos are done all over the body
  • Size: As it is a full-body tattoo, the size doesn’t matter. A cluster of small patterns is used to ensure maximum body coverage
  • Skin tone: These designs suit light to fair skin tones.

9. Maori Flower Tattoos On Hip:

The Maori flower tattoo is beautiful to look at. The image of a beautiful flower surrounded by tribal patterns. It is gorgeous and is best suited for women. It is one of the best Maori tattoos for Girls, which is beautiful and attracts others easily.

  • Best for: These tattoos are preferred by girls and women with curvy waistlines. These tattoos adorn their slender bodies and offer a sensual look.
  • Preferable ink: Flower Maori tattoos are best done in medium to large sizes depending on the pattern chosen.
  • Where: These types of tattoos are preferred to be done on the waistline
  • Size: The tattoo’s size depends on how much coverage one looks for. You can go for a medium to large-sized floral pattern.
  • Skin tone: They best suit light and fair skin tones.

10. Turtle Shell Maori Tattoo On Shoulder:

In Maori tattoo designs, some of the most common symbols are shells, especially turtle shells. The turtle is a vital sea creature and holds great significance among the Maoris. This simple Maori tattoo has more meaning than other symbols and is an excellent idea for a tattoo design. Turtles symbolise health, happiness, long life, rest, peace and prosperity. They are considered signs of good luck in the Maori culture.

  • Best for: These turtle tattoos are done by both men and women who believe in the tales of the ancient Maori culture. Turtle tattoos bring good luck and long life to the person.
  • Preferable ink: This back Maori tattoo is best done in black-coloured ink.
  • Where: Due to the small size of these tattoos, they can be placed anywhere on the body, like arms, biceps, neck, back and even chest.
  • Size: A small to medium-sized Turtle tattoo looks ideal
  • Skin tone: They are suitable for medium skin tones to fair tones.

11. Sun Maori Tattoo Designs For Girls:

The Sun Maori tattoo represents richness, leadership and brilliance. It is considered a source of brightness, natural wealth and nourishment. The sun tattoo is very dynamic to look at. It gives you a very bold and robust appearance. It can be worn on any body part, although the upper body is preferable. They bring good luck, health and happiness to the wearer.

  • Best for Sun Maori tattoos are best worn by both men and women who like to bring in a ray of hope, happiness and good health in their lives.
  • Preferable ink: These tattoos are best done in black and red coloured inks.
  • Where: They are preferably inked on the chest, shoulders and biceps for better visibility.
  • Size: A medium-sized tattoo design looks elegant and adds to the wearer’s beauty.
  • Skin tone: The tattoo uses red and black inks, which are best suitable for light and fair skin tones.

12. Shark Teeth Maori Tattoo Designs For Men:

Shark Teeth are an important fish symbol among Polynesian tattoos. They represent guidance, courage, strength and power and look stylish and trendy on the skin. Sharks were a necessary diet of the Maoris, and their teeth were considered prized possessions. Sharks were also quite revered among other seafood, and their teeth represent strength, power and protection. This is one of the best Maori arm tattoo designs for men.

  • Best for: Shark teeth tattoos suit men with ferociousness and power traits. These people are also highly adaptable and respected by their clans.
  • Preferable ink: Shark teeth tattoos are best done using black teeth,
  • Where: This Maori sleeve tattoo design can also be done on the arms and biceps.
  • Size: These warrior tattoos are best done in medium-sized patterns
  • Skin tone: You can get them done on light and fair skin tones.

13. Spear Head Maori Tattoos On Arm:

The Spear Head Maori tattoo stands as a symbol of courage, wisdom and strength. It tries to express the image of a warrior and his excellent skills. The tattoo has very intricate designs, and every line could stand as a symbol for something. It is very innovative and unique in appearance. It is one of the best Maori tattoo designs for both men and women.

  • Best for: Spearhead tattoos are best for men with warrior-like qualities and a focused aim on their goals. These people are go-getters and represent courage and bravery.
  • Preferable ink: Spear tattoos are inked using black and brown coloured inks
  • Where: They are best done as armbands or on sleeves and arms.
  • Size: Spear tattoos look great in medium or small-sized patterns
  • Skin tone: They are best suitable for medium to fair skin tones.

14. Small Maori Tattoo Designs For Men:

We usually find out that most Maori tattoos are rich, filthy, and elongated, which cover significant portions of the body. If you want one of the Maori tattoos for men who are neater, then you can go for one of such small patterns and get them inked on your chest like it is done here, behind the neck, or anywhere else because of smaller tattoos are more accessible to flaunt than the others. These tattoos represent the rich culture and heritage of the Maoris using subtle patterns and minimal details. They are made using a cluster of designs like the flora, fauna and other essential elements for Maori living.

  • Best for: These tattoos are mainly intended for men who look to achieve more using less. They indicate their love for the Maori way of life and their pride in carrying their heritage.
  • Preferable ink: Using black ink is the best colour for such types of tattoos
  • Where: This pattern looks fantastic on the chest, back or shoulders.
  • Size: A medium-sized pattern is ideal for covering all the details while ensuring its simplicity
  • Skin tone: They are suitable for light to fair skin tones.

15. Ocean Maori Tattoo Design For Men:

Ocean Maori tattoos are prevalent. Some understand oceans as a symbol of death or the world beyond it. There are various patterns and designs available to choose from, and people have liked the idea as it makes your tattoo look strikingly impressive. Oceans played a crucial role in the lives of the Maoris, as they used to get most of their food from the waters. Seafood was the Maoris’ staple diet, and they used several techniques to hunt the fish.

  • Best for: Ocean tattoos are usually done on men who respect the Sea God for giving them plenty of food and offering them a source of living
  • Preferable ink: Maori upper arm tattoos are best done in black coloured inks
  • Where: Ocean tattoos are best done on the chest, shoulders, neck and even back.
  • Size: They use a group of smaller patterns to make one large Ocean pattern.
  • Skin tone: They are suitable for light to fair skin tones.

16. Maori Tribal Tattoo Designs:

Maori tribal tattoos symbolise the rich culture and heritage of the ancient Maoris. They are made using many symbols and patterns to represent the old way of living. Each detail is carefully depicted using certain characters like the tents, fish scales, the Mackerel tail etc., with each associated with meanings like prosperity, health and courage.

  • Best for: Tribal tattoos are best done on men, who like to make their bodies the perfect canvas for etching the Maori way of life. These tattoos are symbolic stories of the then-Maori way of living.
  • Preferable ink: Tribal tattoos are preferably done in black-coloured ink.
  • Where: They can be done on the biceps, chest and arms for better visibility.
  • Size: Maori tribal tattoos are ideally done in large sizes to ensure that all the details are accurately captured.
  • Skin tone: They are suitable for light to fair skin tones.

17. Maori Band Tattoo Designs:

This is one of the most stunningly done Maori armband tattoos. It is made using a series of patterns like spears, whale teeth etc., to symbolise protection, battlefield and courage. Armband tattoos are pretty popular with both men and women, who like to use them as permanent accessories on their bodies. Band tattoos can also be done on ankles and shoulders. Although they are simple designs, they are highly detailed with inner meanings.

  • Best for: Band tattoos are best for both men and women who like to add detailing to the most visible parts of their body, like the wrists, arms and ankles.
  • Preferable ink: These tattoos look amazing when done in black-coloured ink.
  • Where: As the name suggests, band tattoos are preferably done on wrists, arms and ankles.
  • Size: They are best done in medium or large sizes, depending on the size of the placement area.
  • Skin tone: They are ideally done on medium to fair skin tones.

Additional Tips to Retain the Elegance of Maori Tattoo Designs:

Maori tattoos carry a lot of significance concerning the culture and heritage of the most famous clan in the world. Hence, it is essential to understand certain aspects before zeroing in on a particular design:

  • Before choosing a plan, understand the importance of the different symbols used.
  • You need to be fully aware of the patterns’ significance to ensure you know exactly what you plan to achieve with the tattoo.
  • Depending on the story you want to narrate, choose different small patterns to make one large pattern.
  • The placement area is also essential for Maori tattoos. Certain tattoos with religious symbolism must not be done on foot and lower body parts.
  • Choosing an artist is also quite important. The artists must be well-versed in the Maori signs and patterns to get their money’s worth.

More Tattoo Designs:


Thus it is a fact proved and sealed that tribal tattoos are a constant hit in the charts of the best tattoo designs and Maori tattoos never fail to impress people with the newer versions and more creative and beautiful patterns. We hope this article inspired you to get your story narrated using the Maori symbols. Maori tattoos are complex and challenging to achieve if the artist is not experienced. The easy way to achieve symmetry in a Maori tattoo is to use stencils to outline the patterns. So folks, get ready for these fantastic Maori tattoos that will grab some eyeballs!

Rk Bh

About Krishna

Meet Krishna, our experienced tattoo designs writer. He explores the captivating world of tattoos, sharing their stories, meanings, and the latest trends to inspire your own tattoo journey. Join him on an exciting adventure into the world of tattoos.

One comment on "15+ Amazing Maori Tattoo Designs And Their Meanings!"

  • Pratima

    Great blog. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed reading…

Comments are closed.