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Air New Zealand has decided to lift its ban on visible tattoos for staff members, Reuters reports. The decision to end the policy comes amidst concerns of potential discrimination against New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people, for whom tattoos carry cultural significance.

Previously, the carrier had a uniform policy restricting individuals with visible tattoos from applying for many customer facing roles such as flight attendants.

Tattoos on the face and arms are a common form of cultural expression for people with indigenous heritage in the island nation. Therefore, many indigenous people would be prevented from holding visible positions with Air New Zealand, which uses Māori imagery in its logo and aircraft liveries.

Christopher Luxon, CEO of Air New Zealand, has said the change is a result of consumers’ changing attitudes toward body art in New Zealand and abroad.

“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,” he said in an email to Reuters.

Air New Zealand is taking other steps toward better representation within its workforce. The carrier has set a goal of increasing the number of Māori and other Pacific Islanders among its company leadership. It has also announced cultural fluency trainings for current senior leaders in hopes of creating a more inclusive workspace for indigenous New Zealanders.

Featured image courtesy of Air New Zealand.

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