'We're just normal people': NZ Police say tattoos help to 'humanise' the force

A new recruitment campaign for the New Zealand Police is aiming to show a more relatable side to the officers in blue.

As part of the campaign, several tattooed law enforcers are sharing deeply personal stories behind their ink in an effort to "humanise" those who are keeping us safe.

Constables Dion Nelson-Screen and Angel Pera joined The Project on Tuesday to share a different side to the police. 

"I've got mokos on my ankles and on my arms as well. My ankles are for my daughter and a child that passed away. The mokos on my arms are in honour of my koros and their legacy they left for us," Pera told The Project.

Nelson-Screen's Batman body art isn't just a reference to his favourite film.

"I've always liked Batman, but I like that he doesn't have powers but still fights crime," he explained.

"I got this before I joined the police, but it merges in."

Pera said her tattoos help to bridge a divide between herself and the public.

"For myself, it bridges a gap with people, especially Māori," she explained.

"I kōrero with them and they can relate to me, we connect and exchange manaakitanga. It's really important for me."

Nelson-Screen, who got his first tattoo at 17, said he was advised not to tattoo his arms as it would impact future job opportunities. 

Now a member of the New Zealand Police, he has both arms heavily tattooed. 

"I had a little bit of doubt... with previous jobs I've had to hide them. The police were welcoming, my recruiter spoke to me about tattoos," he told The Project.

The constables believe their ink and the stories behind their body art adds a humanising element to those maintaining law and order. 

"We're just normal people," Pera said.