Whanau Orā News

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Seeing his children drawing on themselves, was one of the triggers that pushed Graham Thomas to get rid of his tattoos.

“The first one I got was when I was 16 so from that age to 33 – there’s been a collection of them. I’m ex-Navy, so most of them came from overseas,” he says.

I wanted to get rid of these tattoos on my hand and neck, but I didn’t know where to start. I spoke to Kim Richards of Te Arawa Whānau Ora and she got the ball rolling. She referred me to Korowai Aroha Paearahi, Lorraine Hall.

“We had a chat and it started from there. I was actually surprised from where things had started to my first laser removal session was probably in the space of a couple weeks.”

A born again Christian, Graham says his ink is in stark contrast to the person he is today.

“They’re a reminder to me of what life was. I was unstable, the motivation behind nearly all my tattoos was one of rebellion,” he says.

“Becoming a father too, seeing my children trying reconcile in their minds, ‘How come you’re a loving and caring father but the tattoos speak of someone who isn’t that?’

“Another trigger is when I saw them drawing on their fingers like my tattoos.”

He says the support has been amazing from Lorraine.

“She’s constantly following me up, just to make sure I’m getting the right treatment and service. I think the biggest thing that stood out the most was she was really accepting. I got the feeling she really wanted to see it through. There’s been a really good relationship, at no time did I ever feel judged. I can imagine that could be a barrier for people making the first step, but I’ve had nothing but support.”

Graham is halfway through his laser treatments.

“When I’ll look down and not see them on my hands and neck it will be a relief. For me, it means freedom from the person I used to be.”

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