Air New Zealand to overturn hypocritical moko policy

By Te Ao - Māori News

Air New Zealand has today announced changes that will see all employees, including uniformed staff, able to have visible moko at work.  The new policy will come into effect on September 1.

Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said the airline is committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace.

“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,” he said today in a press release.

The change comes after the airline has been criticised in the past over its stance, most notably in 2013 after a Native Affairs broadcast about aspiring flight attendant Claire Nathan, whose interview with Air New Zealand was terminated because she has a moko on her forearm.

The stance was widely seen as hypocritical as the airline famously uses the koru as its iconic logo and incorporates other aspects of Māori culture for its tourism branding.

Air NZ stated that they had conducted five months of ‘extensive research’ with customers and employees.

“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. 

"Research indicates one in five adult New Zealanders has at least one tattoo, with more than 35 percent of under 30s tattooed.”

Luxon says it’s important that the airline keeps up with changes in social norms but it’s still a case of securing the best person for the job.  He calls Air New Zealand ‘New Zealand’s most attractive employer’ and says that they receive a very large number of applications for every available role.

“The reality is that most applicants are not successful.  However, I can guarantee that no one will be turned down because of their tattoo as long as it’s not offensive or inappropriate.”

READ MORE:

Native Affairs - Air New Zealand Moko Policy

Native Affairs - Sky High, Skin Deep