Ink Series – David Puniani

My buddy David Puniani gave me the idea for the Ink Series so thought I’d give him props & feature him first.  Shot!

I got to know David (I call him Volo – short for his stage name Devolo from DECEPTIKONZ fame) during a Raggamuffin road trip, where, after a series of hilarious mishaps I was nominated to drive him to the after party gigs he was meant to perform at in Rotorua.  I spent the whole night being his chauffeur/(pretend) manager/dj (he was going to get me to do his set changes lol) & although we’d just met we pretty much hit it off straight away.  Dude is one of THE funniest people I know!!  Fun times in Vegas lol

Fast forward a few months & we bumped into each other again, this time in Whangarei where he was doing a couple of shows with Dei Hamo, Pieter T & my girl Sheeq.

We were all sitting round after the shows having a few drinks & got onto talking about tattoos & in particular Volos tattoos as he’d had a few added since I’d seen him last.  He had his first tattoo done when he was 15 and like most polynesian boys it was just an island design arm band which he’s continued to add to over the years.  He now has designs that cover most of the upper half of his body – his right shoulder, arm & hand are covered, left shoulder to elbow as well as his right shin and calf. He also has a tiger & lion on his chest – in his words “I like them cos they’re fierce and for me it represents the beast within haha”   He’s currently working on a piece to cover his whole back….. I guess like pringles – ‘once you pop you can’t stop’

What really struck me was that a lot of the different designs he has actually have meaning for him – they’re not just random designs to fill up space on his skin – some have sentimental value, some represent who he is, his cultural background & what he does all etched permanently in ink.

It got me thinking about what I’d like to get done & rather than just getting a pretty design or picture as decoration – I wanted them to mean something to me or have some kind of story behind them like Volos do to him.  Now that I’ve had some ink of my own done I’ll share the back story on mine later but first, check some of Volos below …..

New Zealand 

The first time I saw Volo’s map of New Zealand tattoo was in the Not Many Remix video (pic above and video after the drop) where he jumps around with Mareko to Savage rapping about representing his crew the Deceptikonz.  I thought wow!  Thats really cool!  I haven’t seen anyone rocking a map of New Zealand tattoo!  Ha!  As you can see below he’s had the rest of his arm filled out with polynesian and Tongan designs but the outline of New Zealand still stands out and I still love it.  Ants from Rotorua did the NZ outline for him and he said it was the perfect piece for his forearm.  In his words ‘ Dudes rep their cities/hoods – I rep my country of birth’.

Tiger & Lion 

“Representing the beast within” Beast Mode lol!  Both pieces done by Nick Glavish

Kingdom of Tonga 

Although Volo was born in New Zealand, he was raised back in the Kingdom of Tonga by his grandmother until he was 5 yrs old before moving back to New Zealand.  He also did his first year of high school in Tonga & is at heart still a very proud Tongan and proud of his heritage.  These pieces reflect his cultural identity with the Tongan coat of arms and traditional Tongan patterns.  All of his more traditional style Tongan tattoos were done by Carl Cocker of KALIA TATTOOS in Papatoetoe, South Auckland.

Childrens names

Volo & his beautiful partner Olivia have 5 children.  He has 4 of his kids names in ink – Evalina, Anapesi, Laquasia & Royal

The 10 Commandments 

Sorry then big gunz guy haha.  He has the 10 commandments tablets on the inside of both of his biceps in old Hebrew symbols.  These tattoos are a reminder of his religious upbringing and his families dedication to church.  His father is a pastor in Australia.  These pieces were done by MARV on New North Road in Auckland.

RIL Lavinia Vimahi 

This tribute piece was done in memory of his beloved grandmother who in his words ‘pretty much raised me’.   She passed away in December 2010. Nick Glavish also did this portrait piece.


Top of his back & neck is his date of birth in roman numerals and under this is his middle name – ILOAHELOTU.  Most fans will remember his DEVOLO back piece which he showed on the cover of his “Heaven & Hell” album.

Devolo as mentioned before is his stage name.  LANI SAYS did a great interview with Volo for the old Back to Basics Magazine back in the day when his “Heaven & Hell” album had first dropped.  He goes in to more detail about the origin of his stage name, the making of his “Heaven & Hell” album & more.  It’s one of my favourite interviews.  Lani Says includes the full audio in her feature so be sure to check it out HERE.

“And I will always represent my crew Decepti, Cepti Konz”    (Savage – Not Many the Remix)

Here Volo pays homage to his boys/crew Dkonz (Deceptikonz) and the Horsemen Family.   The Deceptikonz (Devolo, Mareko, Frisko & Savage) have been pioneers of NZ Hip-Hop since the late 90’s and released their last album together in 2010 – “Evolution”.  Nick Glavish did the Dkonz piece on his calf.

The Horsemen Family was formed out of a group of the Deceptikonz friends.  Mareko had a studio that the boys would all go over and record at and after listening to the talent that was coming out of these impromptu recording sessions, the Deceptikonz members decided that they had enough of a group of talented artists to start a label.  The boys recorded an album and went to DAWN RAID & asked if they could help with a distribution deal.

Dawn Raid were cool with this and so the Horsemen Family signed with Dawn Raid for a 1 album record deal.  “Feels Like Magic” was the only track released as a single and just last week it went Gold!  Yay!  Shot boys!  Volo’s Horsemen Family tattoo on his shin was  also done by MARV.

 Mic Check  

Volo is currently working at T.Shirt Time in Manukau, South Auckland where he prints and has a hand in the designs at the shop.  He’s been in the t.shirt printing business for the last 12 years as he was also behind the Dawn Raid t.shirt prints from back in the day.  (Who remembers their tees at the Otara Markets?  I know!  Thats going back a while now aye?)

He WAS going to retire from music and just ‘be about his business’ but has just confirmed that he’ll be working on a 2nd solo album due out at the end of this year so he’ll be back on his grind until then.  If all goes to plan it should be out by Xmas this year or early next year.

When asked about his mic tattoo, he replied “I wouldn’t be who I am today without it”.

Mic piece done by Antz in Rotorua.

Thanks Volo – look forward to hearing your new project.

Shouts to Daniel Maoate (Frisko) for the background info on the Horsemen Family & Dei Hamo for the use of his house to do our tattoo photo shoot and more importantly – introducing Volo to moisturiser – yes it is your friend! LOL!

Music as promised:

Not Many the Remix – Scribe ft Savage & David Dallas (A young Devolo & Mareko have cameos in this @1:41 & @1:47) 

Fave Devolo songs:  Good Day & Feels like Magic (Horsemen Family – vid below)

Fave Dkonz songs Fallen Angels (vid below) & Drama Queen  (lol)

Fave Devolo collabo:  Indulge me with David Dallas of course 🙂 & They don’t know (Savage & Rads) would have to be a close 2nd

8 responses to “Ink Series – David Puniani

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