The Herald reports:
Claire Nathan says she had her dreams of being an air hostess dashed after Air New Zealand turned her away because of her ta moko.
Ms Nathan applied for her dream job in January, but last month, the national flag carrier terminated an interview when she declared the traditional Maori motif on her lower arm.
Last night, she told Maori TV show Native Affairs how the interview initially went well, until it came to filling out a form that asked if she had any visible tattoos.
“I thought, ‘This is interesting. I wonder why they are asking me that. Maybe it’s because they want to know if I have a ta moko.’
“I thought that they would be quite proud to have someone with a ta moko working and representing New Zealand. [But it’s] not the case. [It] was the total opposite.”
Ms Nathan said she was told tattoos that could not be covered by the uniform were unacceptable.
People make a choice whether to get tattoos. I think many tattoos look cool, but if you want a job in certain roles you need to think about whether having a visible tattoo will be hinder you in that.
If someone was covered with skull and crossbones tattoos, then you would not expect to see them in certain frontline roles.
Now of course a ta moko is very different to the above example. But here’s where I have sympathy for Air NZ.
Do they become the tattoo police and decide on an individual basis which tattoos are allowable, and which are not? I’d guess that would land them in even more trouble.
She said it was a double standard from an airline whose logo is a koru.
Heavily tattooed singer Gin Wigmore has appeared in Air NZ ads, as have numerous inked All Blacks.
There’s a world of difference between someone appearing in a television advertisement, and someone being in a customer service role.
I’m sure Air NZ do not mind how many tattoos staff in non front line roles have.
Ms Nathan said she never thought her ta moko – depicting her heritage and her two children – would limit her career choices.
Well of course it would. She made a choice.
Air New Zealand said last night that tattoos were seen as “frightening or intimidating” in many cultures.
“Naturally we want all of our customers to feel comfortable and happy … and this has been a key driver of our grooming standard which, like many other international airlines, prevents customer-facing staff from having visible tattoos.”
As I said, I think many tattoos look great if done well (would never have one myself though). But Air NZ is a company that lives or dies on customer service, and their rule isn’t an anti moko rule – it is an anti visible tattoo rule.
You can argue that they should show some flexibility, but then they have to start inspecting individual tattoos and telling prospective staff whether they approve of their individual designs. Imagine the nightmare that would cause!