Michael Laws on the tattoo cry-babies

Michael Laws discusses the tattoo cry-babies.

New Zealand women also have a well earned reputation for being stroppy sheilas. So it was no surprise when airline hostess aspirant Claire Nathan and caterer Claire Haupini went public with their demands to display their tattoos as they saw fit. Nathan chose the media as her protest vehicle, Haupini the Human Rights Commission.

And both had a ready-made excuse. They were Maori. Their tattoos were cultural. Suck on that.

Neither Air New Zealand nor the Spit Roast Catering Company was in a sucky mood this week. The former correctly stated that many international visitors found overt tattoos to be threatening and intimidating. And tacky. The catering company made a similar claim about the many Kiwis who would prefer not to encounter “body art” when they’re eating.

Predictably there was outrage from the easily outraged – as if a deliberate racist insult had been made. How could a company that had a koru on its livery, reject a female flight attendant with moko?

No, I don’t see the connection either – but that was the level of the argument advanced by National MP Tau Henare.

In the end, both companies got their way, and in the case of Spit Roast, some money towards their legal expenses from the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

And an important precedent was rejected: that some tattoos are better than others. Especially if they’re Maori.

Although that flavour was most evident in the other controversy of the week – the Marlborough Express and its school lunch cartoon. If you’re brown, it’s unfair to be satirised, ran the theme. Thankfully, most of New Zealand feels differently.