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Highlights of the 8th Annual Tisa’s Tattoo Fest 2012

Tisa’s Tattoo Fest celebration was filled with excitement and fun, as keepers of the Tatau art revealed their oral history and the origin of the Samoan traditional tattoo during the 8th annual event.

Visitors and travelers lined up to get a view of the Au (traditional tools) during the three day celebration, held at the world famous Tisa’s Barefoot Bar venue.  From as far away as Italy, Tampa and South Beach Florida, guests of the Tattoo Fest flocked to Alega Beach to witness American Samoa’s popular celebration of the traditional Samoan cultural arts. 

For some, the call of the isles lured them, as it had their forefathers to Pago Pago Harbor so long ago.

Linda Brown retraced the history of her father’s visit to American Samoa in the 1930s.   One man in particular came home from Australia to reclaim his 1949  birthplace of Tutuila Island. Sailors taking shelter on Tutuila Island for the yachting season had one thing in common; their love of Motu o Fiafiaga and its happy people.

Vailima beer of Samoa served them well on a hot and gorgeous weekend from the beginning to end a perfect Tisa’s Tattoo Festival.

 Siapo and Elei arts delighted off island visitors with locally made tapa designs for early Christmas shopping, while local art instructor, Reggie Meredith and ASCC students produced some of the finest tapa art show, while guitar and Ukulele extravaganza thrilled local and international crowd on Saturday afternoon with island melody. It was the first scheduled appearance for the newly crowned Ms. American Samoa, who presented the Ava Ceremony to the delight of locals, new visitors and returning Samoans. Many were treated to a bowl of ipu Ava during the opening of the Tattoo Fest weekend. 

Candidates for governor and Lt. Governor, Tim Jones and Sandra King Young mingled among the relaxed crowd, while festivities occupied the entire afternoon at Tisa’s. Clearly, the young candidates were present in support of Cultural Arts.

Island Image’s Creation dazzled the fest with tropical fashion designs, modeled by the hottest looking young female models. Photographers had the opportunity to film some of the most colorful dancing costumes in a perfect setting at the fest.

Tisa’s Tattoo Festival received oral history of the Tatau origins from Keepers of the Art, Afioga Su’a Pogisa Su’a. The moment was special for Samoa News and fest founder Tisa at the yielding of oral history by its humble and brave Keeper, as we sat quietly in the fale Samoa, with the ocean crashing softly below its wooden floor. The rarity of our gathering gave me a sense of belonging and honor to continue my Tautua and preservation of the Tatau art for another 3,000 years in the Samoan Islands.  Young people, who were students of the event, were blessed with the historical knowledge revealed in the Sua district by our special Tufuga guests from Independent Samoa.

Friends of my brother from Florida followed him all the way to Alega to pay tribute to the Tatau Art. Fifteen visitors travelled from Seattle for a little R&R and to enjoy the stress free life of Motu o FiaFiaga and its residents.

 I almost forgot it was Paloka season!  Thanks to the easterly trade winds for an extended two months bringing 76-79 degrees with cool dry evenings and early mornings, it kept the venue pleasant for the entire weekend.  

Each year, Samoa News and Blue Sky Communications make viewing theTattoo fest exciting for tattoo lovers locally and around the world on the internet.  Aiga and fans got to see our community event, live on the Tattoo Fest stage.

Samoa News and Blue Sky Communications were among the first major sponsors of the Tattoo Fest celebration from the beginning. Both sponsors carried Tisa’s Tattoo Fest proudly to all corners of the world, by linking Samoans worldwide. Thanks to the engineers of VCX wireless, this year’s event went smoothly, and streaming live the tattoo fest gave viewers better reception online. Your service and team work was outstanding and very much appreciated.

American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau elevated local interest to put American Samoa on tourism’s radar and it works! Cruise ship traffic has injected a big economic boom since its establishment four years ago, and is improving. The good news is that buses, taxis, beach bars and our beautiful island attracts baby boomers to Pago Pago. Sightseeing tours of our island paradise are popular with all cruise ships as ASVB continues to perform miracles with a very low budget by sponsoring many local events, including this one.

We welcome the new kid on the block—Barefoot Republic, which proves worthy of its fine wine when it took the island by surprise recently. It is now the most popular wine in American Samoa. Meanwhile, new distributor, Impex Pacific cannot keep up with the demands of their new product. We want our Barefoot Wine!

New tattooists brought new talent and excitement to the tattoo fest venue this year.  Elvis Uiligitone of Nu’uuli, and Anthony Aab, of Aua, are the latest hot tattoo artists in American Samoa. Earned by each, they were best of the fest overall winners in the most creative, male and female categories, including tribal art award for Shoulder/ Sleeve art at the award ceremony to end one of the best ever Tisa’s Tattoo Fest 2012.

The Tatau Fest was well represented by two of the finest Tufugas, Su’a Wilson Fitiao and Su’a Tupou Su’a of Samoa.


Tisa’s Tattoo Fest was founded by Tisa Fa’amuli in 1993. Tisa’s mission— to preserve cultural arts of Samoa and conservation of natural resources would not have been possible without the support of American Samoa and our business community.  This year, Tisa’s Tattoo Fest is dedicated to the Keeper of the Tatau Art, Afioga Su’a Pogisa Su’a, of Lefaga Samoa and the Oral history of the Samoan Islands.

 Fa’afetai to our major and business sponsors, GHC Reid & Co/ltd Vailima, Polynesian Picks, Tool Shop, Industrial Gases, Ace American Industries and Computer World, Afoa and Le’I for Governor and Lt. Governor and 3439 Footwear. Fa’afetai, Amerika Samoa!


Best Malu  — a tie between Teri So’oto Palmer and Sandra King Young .

Best  Sog’imiti — Faleselau Tuitasi by Tau Su’a.

Best of Fest Most Creative Polynesian Female Tattoo — Cameron Fagan by Elvis

Most Creative /Polynesian Tribal  Male Tattoo — Ray John by Elvis

Tauvae  —  Matt Steffes  By Elvis

Best Shoulder /Sleeve — Marrero Angel by Anthony Aab

Best Taulima — Kurt Aab/ by Anthony Aab

Traditional  Samoan Tattoo art using traditional tools — Chuck Nelson, by Wilson Fitiao