Air New Zealand reverses ban on staff having tattoos

Air NZ has announced it will allow all staff to show a bit of ink when in uniform.

From September 1 all staff will be allowed to have tā moko and non-offensive tattoos visible when wearing their uniform or normal business attire.

Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon says the decision is part of the airline's belief in being a diverse workplace 

"It reinforces our position at the forefront of the airline industry in embracing diversity and enabling employees to express individuality or cultural heritage."

Earlier this year the airline faced criticism after a Whangarei man said he had been refused a job at our national airline because of his tattoos.

Sydney Heremaia had applied for a part-time customer service job at Whangarei Airport.

Heremaia declared he had two tattoos, one on his left shoulder and the other on his right forearm, to the airline as well as submitting photos as part of the application process.

In response, Air NZ told Heremaia "the body art you have declared does not comply" with its standards, despite them not being visible when in uniform.

Speaking to Newshub in March, he said he disagreed that his tattoos would be visible in any way.

"That's why I'm asking these questions. I've put them to Air New Zealand and they have yet to respond. All the people that have commented on social media, all my friends and family have the same questions - it just doesn't add up and it doesn't make sense."

During this time, Air NZ was undertaking a five month review into its policy which included speaking with staff and customers

"In conversations we've had with customers and our own people domestically and overseas in the past five months, it's clear that there is growing acceptance of tattoos in New Zealand, particularly as a means of cultural and individual expression."

Heremaia said it was ironic that his design representing his and his culture's history in New Zealand wasn't allowed, but the airline was happy to use a Māori-inspired koru design on the tails of all of its aircraft and on staff uniforms.