Home Uncategorised Air New Zealand drops ban on staff tattoos

Air New Zealand drops ban on staff tattoos




Air New Zealand will end a ban on staff having visible tattoos, in a move it says will allow staff to express cultural and individual diversity.

Some New Zealanders with Maori heritage wear tattoos to mark their genealogy and heritage.

The airline said from 1 September, all employees will be able to display “non-offensive” tattoos at work.

It said there was growing acceptance of tattoos, particularly as a means of personal expression.

The airline’s tattoo restrictions attracted criticism and some accused it of hypocrisy for using other aspects of Maori culture – such as language and symbols – in its marketing efforts. 

Local media also reported the policy shift comes after high-profile cases of individuals who had been refused roles at Air New Zealand because of visible tattoos.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said the firm wanted to embrace diversity and allow employees “to express individuality or cultural heritage”. 

“We want to liberate all our staff including uniform wearers such as cabin crew, pilots and airport customer service teams who will, for the first time, be able to have non-offensive tattoos visible when wearing their uniforms.” 

The airline said research found one in five adult New Zealanders has at least one tattoo, with more than 35% of people under 30 tattooed.

For people of Maori descent, markings known as moko are carved into the skin using chisels. They are a sacred tradition, denoting a person’s links with their family and cultural identity.

Facial tattoos – moko kauae – are of particular importance. Men’s moko tend to cover their entire face, while the women’s cover the chin.

Air New Zealand said the move to drop the ban followed five months of research with customers and staff. 

A spokesperson for the national carrier said it would “treat tattoos like speech” to determine what would be considered offensive. 

“In the same way you shouldn’t swear, make hateful comments, lewd jokes, or use violent language in the workplace for example, the same goes for tattoos,” the spokesperson said. 

She said where the situation is unclear, the airline will have a Tattoo Review Panel “to assist employees and managers to determine whether a tattoo is aligned with our policy”.


  1. Dear Air New Zealand

    Your policy now says only non-offensive tattos are allowed.

    I am offended by all tattoos, which should save you the problem of deciding which tattoos are allowed.


    A potential customer.



  2. “non-offensive tattoos”
    Clearly they mean Brown people with tattoos are okay- White people bad!

    This is going to be fun- Make sure you complain about every single tattoo as ‘Offensive’…e:g I find facial tattoos offensive as to me they are a symbol of criminal gangs..



  3. I’m presuming from the comments about “cultural tattoos” will limit what the AirNZ customer will be exposed to will be Maori or PI cultural tattoos? Or how far do you take this if someone claims their tattoo is cultural to them? What about a Celtic symbol? What about script marking the death of a loved one? What about a rainbow because the staff member is gay, or a rose, dolphin, or any other special symbol to that staff member.

    “Facial tattoos – moko kauae – are of particular importance. Men’s moko tend to cover their entire face, while the women’s cover the chin.”

    Not all of us are comfortable with tattoos. A tattoo on a cabin crews arm is passable. Facial tattoos is definitely too far. No to that.



    • I was talking to an old friend yesterday who has recently got a moko kauae, she is a cook/chef. I have to say that it looked good on her.

      If it gets normalized again, I don’t have a problem with that. I guess Air New Zealand will be guided by feedback.

      The other thing with it though is that people may have to just accept that it is not their having a tattoo that is the reason that they haven’t got the job but other factors as there is no longer a discriminatory policy regarding tattoos. That was possibly an easy out.



      • Sorry Rachael I can’t go Facial tattoos on anyone.
        I really like Tatts- I have several myself (Back and shoulders because I want to be employable/look professional when I have to)
        Facial tatts just look like fucking gangmembers to me
        DEVAST8…..I rest my case!



        • I don’t equate the two examples. The Goldie paintings are classic, I can be a little judgmental about whether I think they are a pc statement or something spiritual for the wearer. For my friend, it is spiritual as I am not aware that she has a political bone in her body. So that is women sorted re their chin. Full facial Maori tattoo I would distinguish, so I guess I am a sexist.

          Is there going to be a policy regarding future tattoos? If you are employed with a clean skin or tattoos, should you have to pass any new ones onto a board for approval? Can an employer fire you if you no longer fit the employment criteria by getting what the employer considers to be an inappropriate tattoo?



          • What is a ‘Spiritual’ tattoo? Can white people get them? After all- European cultures have been tattooing themselves for probably longer than Polynesian cultures have (See my Iceman example)… Or is it only brown people who are allowed to be mystical and magical Rachael??



            • The spiritual comment was to distinguish those who wear greenstone when they are not themselves Maori or for pc reasons. If a cultural tattoo allows ‘identity’ validation for some people, I do not have a problem with it. I have seen blue-eyed blondes that identify with being Maori and speak Te Reo, I can imagine them wanting to show an outward manifestation of their culture.

              Spirituality is individual and no not confined to Maori, and I feel no need to assert ‘my’ culture, but then I am secure in mine. Each to their needs.

              This is in an NZ context and I probably do agree about tokenism with the Koru on the planes, but no Koru on the people.

              Maybe it is just different when you know the people, it looked very right on my friend. It will be interesting to see if it affects her job prospects. She is about to go forth again and we shall see.

              I tend to think that if I was Maori that I would probably fiercely defend my culture, just as I defend my culture now.

              It comes down to that identity issue. I know and am comfortable with who I am and I got a tattoo that reflects that, but you are right, as a rule, facial tattoos do not do it for me.

              Devast8 might have been having an alcohol-induced spiritual moment too. Air NZ’s policy is never going to apply to such as him.

              As I was often accused of being a racist at uni. as electives I did a Maori Development course and one on Maori Myths and Legends, just so that I could not be accused of coming from a place of total ignorance.

              The Myths and Legends one would have been very easy for someone brought up on a marae, the Maori Development one was more challenging. They were both relatively foreign to me. I have also been made aware that I can never be Maori and as such that I can never understand the inherency of things Maori that blood offers. Especially when it comes to jobs that require a real understanding of Tikanga.

              Sometimes one can’t predict what one will like or not, but for myself, I don’t appreciate anyone telling me what I can or can’t do outside of the normal constraints.

              It just isn’t an issue for me, in this instance.



    • It’s far worse than that Sooty, the rumour is that Luxon has his sights on the National party and being its future leader.
      As I said yesterday I have a friend who flys for Air New Zealand. I am told by this friend that the internal staff newsletter is always packed with stories about how proud the airline is to have the rainbow tick and how proud they are that all their toilets are now available to all (note the use of the word ‘all’ instead of ‘Both’) sexes. They have even gone so far as to redesign the toilet symbol to show that it is available for all.
      Stories about rainbow bullshit are placed as the lead article whereas stuff that employes really wanted to know about (A350 v 787-10) was placed further down the page.
      Apparently, there is a company-wide search for the first ‘brave’ individual who wants to be the first trans trolly dolly and you just know that they will be putting those with face scribble front and centre in an effort to please this government and to show just how woke they and their leader Luxon are.
      I should note that the same staff newsletter did not have a single story on the recent drug taking escapades by senior cabin staff whilst on a stopover in the USA. These escapades resulted in some quite resignations and internal transfers.



        • I think Air New Zealand have already tried the ‘Everyone will love a Transgender weirdo Gangsta Rapping at them’ angle and been burned. (I remember the whole plane groaning and many complaining to the embarrassed looking Hostess! )
          Not even Air NZ would be stupid enough to try that again….Surely?



  4. Very true. A friend’s wife is Russian, and she has a shop catering to the Russian community in Auckland. I was asked to do some work at their shop, but was politely asked by my mate to cover up a little if possible. He explained that tattoos are predominantly reserved for the criminal members of Russian society, and although the Russians now living here are exposed to tattooed kiwis daily, it still made some uneasy, and I was happy to comply.

    I also know that I would have issues in Japan with regards to their acceptance to tattoos, and their attachment to the Yakuza (Japanese mafia)

    Considering that I have culturally appropriated a Yakuza body suit style tattoo, from neck down to my wrists and my toes, I think I wont be visiting Japan any time soon hahah



    • Dedicated.

      Mine is only about 2″ by 2′ on my shoulder of a spider camouflaged on a delicate white flower. Encapsulates me I feel, you only see the spider when you are up close and shown it lol.



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