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13th Sep 2023

Maori man kicked out of pub for having traditional facial tattoos

Steve Hopkins

Facial tattoos aren’t allowed at the pub but dogs are welcome

A Maori war veteran claims he was kicked out of a pub in Australia because of his traditional facial tattoos.

Michael Barclay, a New Zealander living in Australia, was asked to leave Hotel Windsor, in Perth, after asking to see a menu.

Barclay, who was dining with his wife, has a mataora.

He told Australia’s A Current Affair programme that a staff member – who later identified herself as the venue manager – at the pub told him they could not serve him.: “It was at that stage that the bar person then turned around and said, ‘Sorry, I can’t serve you,’ and I said, ‘Why is that?’, and she said, ‘Because you have facial tattoos.’”

Barclay said he attempted to explain the cultural significance of his tattoo, but that did nothing to change the situation: “She said, ‘Yes, we know about you Kiwis, but you still can’t stay, you’ll have to leave’.”

He told the programme that there was no signage at the bar concerning facial tattoo, however, there was on the pub’s website: “We had a look on the website and were aghast to find … that you couldn’t enter with facial tattoos, however, dogs were allowed on the premises.”

Barclay told A Current Affair he was “flabbergasted” and “embarrassed” by the incident.

“I served in the military … for the right to be able to walk down the street, to walk into a hotel or restaurant and not be hassled for who you are,” he said.

Barclay, who has lived in Australia for decades, said he was considering contacting the Australian Human Rights Commission over his treatment.

He added that his experience wasn’t unique and that other Maori men and women had suffered the same treatment because of their traditional markings: “This is not an isolated case, I know of other Maori who have had their Mataoras questioned.

“There’s a lot of Maori out there who are taking on board their right to wear Mataora and Moko kauae, and they should be allowed to conduct themselves in the way they see fit as long as they’re not hurting anyone and (behaving) in a socially acceptable way.

“I’m a law abiding ex-veteran with no criminal history at all … and you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”

The pub says on its website that facial tattoos are not allowed at any time.

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