NZ Herald on tattoos

May 30th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The editorial:

has been widely criticised for turning away an aspiring stewardess with a moko in the skin of her forearm. In response the airline says it is reviewing its policy. It will be weighing up whether the woman’s complaint has done more harm to its public image than tattooed cabin attendants might do to its business. In other words, it must assess whether the tolerance people profess in public truly represents their feelings. …

Nobody outside Air New Zealand is in a position to question its commercial judgment. Critics do not depend for their salaries on the airline’s success in a competitive international market. Air New Zealand managers have the best incentive to assess the true reaction of most people to and the company’s decision on whether to maintain its ban on visible will be a reliable indicator of how society really regards this fashion among younger people today.

Many of their critics have accused the company of hypocrisy since the rejected tattoo was a Maori motif and Air New Zealand brands itself with a koru. They missed the point. The aversion of many people to tattoos goes deeper than the subject drawn, it is the act of deliberate and permanent disfigurement as they see it, that they find appalling.

I think this is the key issue. It is nothing to do with the design. People have every right to get a tattoo, but it may affect the sort of jobs you can get. It’s the same with hair styles. If you like to have a mohawk, don’t be too surprised if you don’t get employed as a receptionist or air hostess. Likewise, if you like facial piercings, then again don’t be surprised if some jobs do not come your way.

Now the difference is you can change your hair style, and remove piercings. But tattoos are not easily removable. True. But that is not the fault of the employer. That is a decision the person with the tattoo made.

Around 20 years ago I probably found tattoos off-putting, but now actually like really cool body art. One friend has probably quarter of her body covered with amazingly lovely art. Definitely not something I’d ever ever do though.

Maori and Pasifika patterns are more attractive than most of the insignia commonly carved into skin and Maori motifs are now often imitated in other parts of the world, not always to the pleasure of their cultural proprietors. It may be that faux ta moko already help promote New Zealand in other places. If so it could be greatly to the advantage of Air New Zealand to have genuine examples of the art on some of its front-line staff.

But the company has not seen it that way, or not until this week. Its reassessment, when it comes, ought to be doubly respected because Air New Zealand not only has the incentive to make the right decision, it is not a conservative company. It is more adventurous than most in its presentation of itself, notably with pre-flight safety films that are not afraid to challenge passengers’ expectations and sense of humour, not to mention their patience

It is an issue for them. I reject that it is a race issue. It is not about the design. As for Miss Nathan, I see Jetstar has offered her a job, so she can still fufill her dreams of being an air hostess.

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30 Responses to “NZ Herald on tattoos”

  1. Ashley Schaeffer (488 comments) says:

    I kind of expect Jetstar employees to be sporting tattoos.

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  2. Urban Redneck (234 comments) says:

    Todays tattoos, piercings, genital beading, transdermal implants, scrotal implants, tooth art and facial sculpture, tongue splitting and branding are merely signs of a decadent, nihilistic and atrophying culture.

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  3. Fletch (6,408 comments) says:

    Around 20 years ago I probably found tattoos off-putting, but now actually like really cool body art. One friend has probably quarter of her body covered with amazingly lovely art. Definitely not something I’d ever ever do though.

    I don’t mind seeing one or two really tasteful tattoos on people but when they do a whole arm, or a quarter of their body (especially if it is in colour – all red/green/blue) it just looks like graffiti to me; like a nice clean wall that someone has gone and drawn all over – really messy.

    And, no; not something I would ever do, either.

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  4. alloytoo (546 comments) says:

    Point is, Air New Zealand’s policy is clear, she (and the Herald) should build a bridge and GET OVER IT.

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  5. wf (447 comments) says:

    And, tattoos are for many people associated with criminal activities. Very few tourists would know the significance of tu moko, and would only read menace in its presence. Or as Fletch says, it looks like graffiti, which for some is just as bad.

    Good on AirNZ for keeping visual pollution out of sight.

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  6. James Stephenson (2,191 comments) says:

    As the saying goes “The difference between tattooed people and untattooed people, is that people with tattoos don’t make judgements about those who don’t.”

    I remember talking to mate who has a bunch of tattoos on one leg, after he’d been harangued about them by some old duck on the north western cycleway after he’d pulled over to let her past and been quite surprised…”do you remember when Nirvana was a little band that nobody else knew, and then they released “Nevermind” and suddenly every little teenybopper had a T-shirt and you felt your Cool Thing had been stolen? That was David Beckham getting tattooed…”

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  7. Nigel Kearney (1,019 comments) says:

    If you think there should be separate rules for all things Maori then this may be a dilemma. If not, then it is very simple as David explained.

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  8. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    I look back at items of “art” or music I bought in my late teens and my twenties and wonder about my taste at the time. Luckily I can throw these out or stash them in a cupboard. I suspect when I’m in my 60s I’ll look back at my current purchases in the same way. On the other hand, tattoos are for people who are absolutely convinced that their taste at age 20 is going to stand the test of the next 60 years.

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  9. iMP (2,387 comments) says:

    AirNZ staff DO have tattoos. This is a complete beat-up and attention seeking. She probably wants a payout.

    http://conzervative.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/no-tatts-tnx-were-kiwis/

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  10. kowtow (8,522 comments) says:

    Tattoos,piercings ,dreds etc……..it’s just people expressing their individuality………by making themselves look exactly like the other fucken losers who look just as trashy as they do.

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  11. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    lol she is a perfect fit for onestar.

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  12. Grendel (1,002 comments) says:

    >>Maori and Pasifika patterns are more attractive than most of the insignia commonly carved into skin

    well thats a load of rubbish, firstly its all in the eye of the beholder and it will really depend on how well its been done, where it is, who its on etc.

    i have 4 large tattoos, but none are visible when i am wearing work clothes (but i dont wear white shirts just in case), and that was a conscious decision about how it could impact my career. i would love to get another one down the inside of my lower arm, but am holding off until i can be sure i can do it without it impacting on work.

    i fail to see why someone thinks they deserve special treatment becuase their tattoos are ‘special’ to them.

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  13. CHFR (229 comments) says:

    I agree Grendel. I have both shoulder blades tattooed but unless I am in togs no one sees them. I am considering an armband as well but will be making sure it is able to be covered by a short slieved shirt as I am aware some of my clients would not appreciate what I consider to be my body art.

    The thing that gets me with the case in question is the fact that it is a tattoo on her forearm and as far as I am aware Maori did not tattoo their arms just faces and then it was high ranking Maori that had them. Am I wrong??

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  14. jawnbc (87 comments) says:

    If Air NZ were to cater to religionists who don’t want to be served by a woman or a gay man I wouldn’t expect Air NZ to “cater” to those prejudices. Ta moko are an integral part of Māori culture–I expect Air NZ to embrace it.

    The first time someone with ta moko approached me I was unnerved; when they turned out to be a warm and friendly person I got over it. Don’t sell international visitors short.

    According to this line of reasoning the All Blacks should drop the haka–very intimidating and unerving.

    Air NZ management needs to grow a pair.

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  15. Akaroa (558 comments) says:

    I have a high shoulder eagle tattoo that I had done as long ago as 1954. I had it to mark a particularly significant and memorable event in my life.

    It was done in Hong Kong and has a two-chinese character comment (Hong Kong) beneath it. It cost $HK10.00

    I have never regretted having it done.

    No-one else can see it – except at the beach/pool, where, I have to say, its been admired – and its nobody’s concern whether its aesthetically pleasing or not.

    To critics I say “Mind your own business, and keep your critical opinions to yourself!”

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  16. jawnbc (87 comments) says:

    Oh and full disclosure: 4 tattoos, but as others have said most are located in places that a short sleeved shirt and shorts cover them. I have one on my one calf, which seems to matter here in NZ to entirely too many people.

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  17. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    Ta moko are an integral part of Māori culture–I expect Air NZ to embrace it.

    Heaven saves us from embracing that “tradition”. Stone Age savagery is more accurate.

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  18. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    Yet another company has been awarded costs after they were taken to court for demanding an employee cover up tattoos

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/small-business/8736298/Employer-tattoo-coverup-request-ruled-OK

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  19. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Tatts to me say “Drug using, low self esteemed, attention seeking, HIV positive loser”…..but that’s my opinion.

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  20. Fost (102 comments) says:

    Tattoos are fine with me – I don’t find them intimidating, it is the person that has them that makes them intimidating or not. But, and I think there are 2 buts in this situation:

    1) While I don’t find tattoos intimidating. other people do, as a generalisation often the elderly or other cultures.

    2) A company can an should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of pre-existing rules that govern things people have adult control over – jewellery, hairstyles (and unnatural colours – like blue or pink), tattoos, specific clothing (i.e requirements to wear a uniform or set style of clothing) – but things that people do not have adult controll over (skin colour, eye colour, gender, etc.) cannot and must not be grounds.

    One final point – I believe she referred to it as a ‘Te Moko’ – but it was just a coloured tatoo on her arm, not a dark black tattoo on her lips and chin – which is what I believe a moko is – thus might have ‘cultural meaning’ to her, is not actually Maori culture, any more than the koru on an AirNZ plane makes the plane Maori.

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  21. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    Last evening in a program on Australian Border security a large heavily tatooed German attempting to enter Aus on a 1 month work visa, was interviewed and eventually turned away.
    Attired in sleeveless intimidatingly labeled clothes and quite unkempt in appearance, I wondered if he had shaved, worn tidy casual and been a little less upfont he might have got a better outcome.
    The interviewer was sufficiently intimidated that for the informing the German of the undesired decision he had a couple of Federal police outside the door.

    Oh and the guy had serious previous with imprisonment only weeks before attempting to enter the lucky country.

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  22. La Grand Fromage (145 comments) says:

    Tattoos are a sign of mental illness. No one wants to be on a plane with a mental in charge. End of story

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  23. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    I think Air NZ are right in asking employees to conceal their Tattoos. Most of their business will come from the higher end of the socioeconomic spectrum and these are the people who find tattoos offensive. They will see the employee as someone they are less likely to trust. As pointed out, other employees involved in customer service for the airline will depend on this policy for the success of the business and security of their salary. On the other hand if they were running a soup kitchen their policy on tattoos is likely to be far different.

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  24. Akaroa (558 comments) says:

    Re: Le Grande Fromage (aka ‘The Big Cheese” for goodness sake!!) at 3.21 pm

    Dear Cheesy – (If I may be so bold as to call you that) – I note that King Frederick IV of Denmark was famed for the range of tattoos he carried on various parts of his anatomy.

    I’m not sure that he could be termed “mentally Ill” are you? (Any input from any Danes?)

    Seriously, folks, as well as being the tags and trademarks of yobs, hoons and ne’er-do-wells, it is actually a fact that the art of truly artistic tattooing is amongst the oldest of human artistic traditions.

    It is a unique art-form in its own right with a long and fascinating history. (Other than the “Fred loves Freda” school of tattooists

    I could go on, but why don’t you Google ‘Tattooing’. Its all there.

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  25. bagelmuncher (8 comments) says:

    I am not intimidated by tattoos but I do think they are trashy and, now it seems every mum has a slag-tag, they are very cliched. Air NZ is a international business and has every right to enforce a clean image. As much as pro-tattoo NZers think they are cool and meaningful art, that is not a world wide held opinion. We have numerous business associates visit NZ from Asia, Europe and the US and nearly all nervously ask about the obsession with tattooing here in NZ, and yes, they see it negatively. I always explain about traditional Maori and PI tattoos which they graciously accept as a valid cultural expression, but really they comment more about the “scribble” they encounter. I just shrug my (untattooed) shoulders!

    I look back and shudder at what my tastes were in music, fashion, food,hair and make-up, drink (wine cooler anyone?) and men. It’s bad enough having the photos to guffaw and snort over. Haircuts and dyes andmakeup can be re-fashioned, piercings can be taken out, men disposed of , food and dodgy booze need not be consumed, clothes can go to the Sallies and my music remains unplayed, but that tatt’ is a permanent reminder of what was cool and ‘meaningful’ for a hot minute a long time ago. Glad I never succumbed.

    On a separate note a dermatologist I know of told me his private practice is solely made up of laser tattoo removal and he could take three times more patients as he has on his books now. He said you have to book 8 months ahead just to get a first consultation. Regrets? He has seen a few.

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  26. Dazzaman (1,140 comments) says:

    Good on Air NZ…..it’s trashy, always will be.

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  27. Dazzaman (1,140 comments) says:

    One thing worse than tat’s, and I have some assorted dots & symbols from many moons ago, is…..love bites.

    I’ve actually made a point of going to managers/service desk supervisors & pointed out I won’t purchase from their store if they have any of those silly young tarts serving with love bites on show. They’ve usually told them to cover them up or go home….

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  28. Bad__Cat (140 comments) says:

    “Ta moko are an integral part of Māori culture..”
    I don’t think that applies here – as was noted earlier, they did not tattoo arms.

    Also, is she entitled to have a moko under Maoritanga?

    I remember the derision my Maori work colleagues held for a character up north who had a full facial moko. Common comments were to the effect that he had no right to have the moko as was “just a bloody slave” (their words, not mine)

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  29. Slipster (175 comments) says:

    What’a next, a bone through the nose? Or just a large ring (leading rope included)?

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  30. Mike78 (80 comments) says:

    Just more proof of jetstars low standards. Maybe less grandstanding more making planes fly on time would be good.

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