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Air New Zealand says it will allow employees to show off tattoos after being accused of hypocrisy and discriminating against Maori staff

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 11/06/2019 Sahil Makkar

Air New Zealand has announced it will end a ban on staff having visible tattoos.

The new changes, effective from September 1, mean staff can display tattoos when wearing their uniform or normal business attire.   

Critics had previously blasted Air New Zealand, claiming their policy discriminated against Maori employees who use tattoos to mark their genealogy and heritage.  

The airline was also accused of hypocrisy because it uses other aspects of Maori culture - such as language and symbols - in its marketing campaigns.

a close up of a person: Air New Zealand has announced it will end a ban on staff having visible tattoos. Critics had previously blasted Air New Zealand, claiming their policy discriminated against Maori employees who use tattoos to mark their genealogy and heritage (pictured a Maori woman) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Air New Zealand has announced it will end a ban on staff having visible tattoos. Critics had previously blasted Air New Zealand, claiming their policy discriminated against Maori employees who use tattoos to mark their genealogy and heritage (pictured a Maori woman)

Air New Zealand also said they plans to increase the number of Maori and Pasifika employees in leadership roles. 

It has set a target of 20 per cent by 2022.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said the decision reinforces the company's position in embracing diversity.

 '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,' Mr Luxon told the New Zealand Herald. 

'In conversations we've had with customers and our own people domestically and overseas in the past five months, it's clear that there is growing acceptance of tattoos in New Zealand, particularly as a means of cultural and individual expression.'

a close up of an airplane: The airline (pictured) was also accused of hypocrisy because it uses other aspects of Maori culture - such as language and symbols - in its marketing campaigns. © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The airline (pictured) was also accused of hypocrisy because it uses other aspects of Maori culture - such as language and symbols - in its marketing campaigns.

Air New Zealand's said research found one in five adult New Zealanders has at least one tattoo, with more than 35 per cent of people under 30 tattooed.

Mr Luxon said the airline will not reject any application as long as the tattoo is not offensive. 

Air New Zealand will set up a tattoo review panel in case of any doubt regarding the nature of tattoo.

a group of people that are talking to each other: Facial tattoos - moko kauae - are of particular importance to Maoris. Men's moko tend to cover their entire face, while the women's cover the chin. (pictured a Maori warrior) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Facial tattoos - moko kauae - are of particular importance to Maoris. Men's moko tend to cover their entire face, while the women's cover the chin. (pictured a Maori warrior)

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

Tania Te Whenua, head of Te Whenua Law and Consulting which provides Māori cultural advice to organizations, said New Zealand companies, particularly those that profit from using Māori culture in international marketing campaigns, should respect the cultural rights of their staff.

'That's a shortcoming of the embracing of Māori culture and other cultures by organizations only so far as it's profit-making ... that makes it particularly egregious for Māori,' she told Reuters.

The tattoos, known as 'Tā Moko' are a deeply sacred expression of cultural identity, Te Whenua added.

'When there are policies which seek to extinguish the visual representation of that practice it's quite hard-hitting,' she said.

a plane flying in the air: Air New Zealand's said research found one in five adult New Zealanders has at least one tattoo, with more than 35 per cent of people under 30 tattooed. Air New Zealand also said they plans to increase the number of Maori and Pasifika employees in leadership roles. It has set a target of 20 per cent by 2022 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Air New Zealand's said research found one in five adult New Zealanders has at least one tattoo, with more than 35 per cent of people under 30 tattooed. Air New Zealand also said they plans to increase the number of Maori and Pasifika employees in leadership roles. It has set a target of 20 per cent by 2022

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