Air NZ rejects job applicant with moko

Last updated 13:08 28/05/2013

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Prime Minister John Key is "surprised" a woman was unable to get a cabin crew job with Air New Zealand because of a ta moko traditional Maori tattoo on her forearm, but said it was a matter for the airline.

Claire Nathan told Maori Television's Native Affairs programme that during an interview for a flight attendant's position at Air New Zealand she was told the company's policy was that no visible tattoos were allowed.

Nathan said she had thought the airline would be proud to have someone with ta moko working and representing New Zealand.

She had been "totally shocked" when she was told the interview would have to be stopped because of the tattoo.

Air New Zealand said it was reviewing the policy which was about making customers feel comfortable. Many passengers came from cultures where tattoos were considered to be frightening or intimidating.

Key said he did not think tourists would be scared off by ta moko.

"It would be a problem if it did because a lot of the Maori events they go to, there's a lot of tattoos," he said, adding he was "a bit surprised really" about the airline's policy.

"But I guess it's a matter for them. I don't know why they chose to do that but tattoos are pretty common these days," Key said.

Labour Party leader David Shearer said he thought Air New Zealand should allow Nathan's ta moko, although it was up to the company.

"That would be my advice to them, but obviously they have to make up their own minds about those sorts of policies," Shearer said.

"I actually thought the tattoo was rather lovely."

He noted that singer Gin Wigmore, who has appeared in Air New Zealand adverts, was "very tattooed".

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