Kiwi furious after being barred from Perth pub for having Māori facial moko

  • 13/09/2023

A Kiwi man has hit out at a Perth pub after he was barred from entering due to his traditional Māori facial moko.  

Michael Barclay told A Current Affair he was "flabbergasted" and "embarrassed" after being stopped from having dinner with his wife at Hotel Windsor in the south of the city.   

Barclay said he was turned away when he tried to order because his facial tattoo breached the establishment’s rules.  

"It was at that stage that the bar person then turned around and said, 'Sorry, I can't serve you', and I said, 'Why's that?', and she said, 'Because you have facial tattoos'," he said.  

Barclay, who served in the SAS, explained to the staffer - who later identified herself as the venue manager - that his facial tattoos are "culturally significant," but he was still refused service.   

Michael Barclay says he was barred from a Perth pub because of his traditional Māori facial moko.
Michael Barclay says he was barred from a Perth pub because of his traditional Māori facial moko. Photo credit: A Current Affair

Nearby customers were also "taken aback" by the manager's response and even tried to convince the staff member to let Barclay order.   

"She said, 'Yes, we know about you Kiwis, but you still can't stay, you'll have to leave'," Barclay told A Current Affair.   

"So we left, there was nothing we saw stating we couldn't enter the pub because of facial tattoos, and it wasn't until later that we had a look on the website and were aghast to find once again that you couldn't enter with facial tattoos - however, dogs were allowed on the premises."  

Barclay told A Current Affair he was "flabbergasted" by the pub's rules, especially after explaining its cultural significance - and is even considering taking the incident to the Human Rights Commission.  

"I served in the military... for the right to be able to walk down the street, to walk into a hotel or restaurant, and not be hassled for who you are," he said.  

"This is not an isolated case, I know of other Māori who have had their Mataoras questioned. There's a lot of Māori out there who are taking on board their right to wear Mataora and Moko Kauae, and they should be allowed to conduct themselves in the way they see fit, as long as they're not hurting anyone and [behaving] in a socially acceptable way.  

"I'm a law-abiding ex-veteran with no criminal history at all... and you shouldn't judge a book by its cover."  

The pub says on its website that patrons with facial tattoos are not permitted at any time.   

This isn't the first time a Kiwi with a facial moko has been turned away from a venue in Australia.  

In April, a Māori woman said she was shocked and disappointed after a Brisbane pub barred her from entering because of her moko kauae.    

"It was actually embarrassing. I was very disappointed, I was shocked but also I felt quite a feeling of injustice," Juanita McNamara told 9News after being refused entry into Irish pub, Finn McCool's, in Fortitude Valley.  

In 2022, Gold Coast resident Jadene Kini - who is of Māori heritage - was also shown the door due to her traditional moko kauae facial tattoo, despite attempting to explain its significance to staff.

Last month, a mother-of-two on the Gold Coast was barred from entering a popular bar due to her visible tattoo.

After taking a few steps inside the venue, however, the doorman stopped Katie Hally and informed her he couldn't let her enter due to her "neck tattoo" being exposed.  

The ink in question, a series of three Chinese characters, is situated along the nape of Hally's neck and down her upper spine.    

Despite attempting to explain to the manager that her tattoo's meaning - "family, love, happiness" - wasn't offensive in nature, Hally claimed the staffer wasn't interested and insisted that she leave, adding that if she hoped to return to the venue, she should opt for a collared shirt that covered the ink.    

She later lambasted the venue's strict dress code as "disappointing and insulting".