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Air New Zealand gives green light for all staff to wear tā moko, other 'non-offensive tattoos' at work

Air New Zealand is allowing workers to display tā moko on the job.

The airline today announced changes that will see all employees, including uniformed staff, able to display their "non-offensive tattoos" including tā moko at work, from September 1.

The changes follow five months of research with Air New Zealand customers and employees.

In a statement Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon says: "I’m extremely proud to be making this announcement. It reinforces our position at the forefront of the airline industry in embracing diversity and enabling employees to express individuality or cultural heritage".

"We felt it was important that this change apply equally to all Air New Zealanders. 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."

In March a Whangārei man was declined a job with Air New Zealand because of his tā moko.

He said he was made to feel like "s… for being Māori.”

When applying for a job in a customer service role at Whangārei Airport, 36-year-old Sydney Heremaia told NZ Herald he had to disclose his tā moko on his left shoulder, and tatau, a Samoan form of skin art on his right forearm.

Both were not visible while wearing a corporate shirt.

He was then asked to provide photos and to explain the cultural significance of them, which he did.

At the time an Air New Zealand representative then sent him an email that said he had been turned down the job because "the body art does not comply with our uniform standards for roles wearing the Koru uniform."

Mr Luxon says it's important that the airline keeps up with social norms.

"I can guarantee that no one will be turned down because of their tattoo as long as it’s not offensive or inappropriate.

"There is an expectation that Air New Zealand will represent our country and our people authentically to the world and having a workforce who can bring their true selves to work is an important part of that," the statement concludes.