Teen told to hide traditional tattoo at school considers Human Rights Commission complaint

An Auckland teen is considering going to the Human Rights Commission after being asked to hide his traditional tattoo by his Auckland school.

Marli Atu says he has been made ashamed of his Pasifika tatou, which tells the story of his Samoan and Fijian culture.

“It represents the cultures of all my ancestors and those who've come before me, it's not a skull, it's not a demon, it's a traditional tatou, the 16-year-old told Seven Sharp.

“He took me to nurse and tried to get me a sock, a sock bandage, like my culture is a disease or a rash or something.”

The school’s request has forced the 16-year-old to wear a jacket in the hot February sun.

“I’ve had days where I felt like I might faint, I just want to walk around in the uniform and still express my culture,” he said.

Glenfield College, like many other schools, doesn't allow visible tattoos and says students are expected to "present themselves in a way that reflects well on them and the College".

“The board has its rules so the school looks good, so if it's my culture it doesn't look good on the school?”

The teen says he tried to explain the cultural significance of his tatau but got nowhere, saying the rule is totally out of step with his cultural beliefs and a change is long overdue.

He doesn't want any other teen to go through the same humiliation.

“I have a duty to change the rule so any Polynesian tatou cultural piercing is allowed, not something making up.”

Your playlist will load after this ad

Marli Atu, who received the ink for his 16th birthday, says Glenfield College is being unfair. Source: Seven Sharp