That Air NZ safety video

Air New Zealand has a new safety video.  It’s part of their on-going series of alternative safety videos, which have become a core part of their image. This time, they’ve taken Sports Illustrated swimsuit models to the Cook Islands.

You can watch the video here, but do be aware that it’s classic objectification of women, with a side serve of using people from a minority ethnic group as props adding local colour.

I’ve been in the media talking about it, and it turns out that I’m not the only person raising issues with it. Pam Corkery thinks that Air NZ has gotten it all wrong, and Hilary Barry is absolutely incensed by it.

“I’m incensed. I’m absolutely incensed by the safety video.

“I think it’s highly inappropriate, sexualised, objectifies women, demeaning, it’s just appalling.

It *is* sexualised. The women are wearing the usual skimpy bikinis, and they sit and stand in sexually provocative poses. To watch the video and claim that it has no sexual content would be at best disingenuous.

And therein lies the problem.

When it comes to sexual expression, one of the key criteria is consent. If I don’t want to see the models in the swimwear edition of Sports Illustrated, then I can choose not to buy the magazine. I don’t have to participate in the objectification of women, nor in the sexual content of the magazine.

But no such choice is available to me if I have bought a flight on Air New Zealand, because I am trying to get from one place to another in the most efficient way possible. I am trapped on board the plane, wearing a seatbelt, and I can’t move anywhere else, while Air New Zealand staff urge me to watch the video. They are forcing sexual content on me without my consent.

On top of that, the Cook Islands people in the video are not exactly front and centre. They’re off to the side, a back drop for the models. Does Air New Zealand think that people from the Cook Islands are just not beautiful enough to feature in the video?

Air New Zealand, please don’t force me to watch this video on your flights. All I want to do is get from one place to another. I don’t want to have to watch sexual material, least of all sexual material that uses people from a minority ethnic group as props. I do not consent.


10 comments on “That Air NZ safety video

  1. Amy Johnson says:

    Well said, Deborah. I was so excited that we plan to travel via Air New Zealand for the first time when we fly to London this summer. And, I love the image this airline has cultivated during the past several years. But, this new safety video has me thinking twice about our choice.

  2. Another reason to avoid flying Air NZ , prat like behavior
    Just what were the bunch of boys who plan these things thinking, we know where most of their blood was though

  3. Carol says:

    Hi Deborah,
    I completely agree with you and well done on sticking your head above the parapet and calling them out – it must be very unpleasant being discussed in comments threads on the likes of the Herald.
    I posted the following feedback on Air NZ’s website and next time I fly I’ll use the suggestions box at the Koru Club as well.
    “I am a Koru club member and a very frequent flyer.
    I am not at all impressed with the most recent Cook Islands-themed safety video. While most of the safety videos have been entertaining, this one is just sleazy. I find it morally very dubious that you defend dodgy content by claiming that it’s OK because it will get the travelling public’s attention. What’s next – a racist safety video? You’ve ticked off the sexist one now.”
    Yours etc Carol Stewart

  4. Carol says:

    PS I think you make an excellent point about choice. Everyone is forced to watch the damned thing.

  5. KatPickford says:

    Hi Deborah. Only just found your blog, a week after I wrote mine about Air New Zealand’s new in-flight safety video:
    I was wondering if you might be free to have a half-hour chat with me some time about another angle I’d like to follow up. You can email me
    Thank you ( :

  6. […] “That Air NZ safety video,” Deborah explains why the new Air NZ safety video crosses boundaries best left uncrossed. […]

  7. Mike@nz says:

    Yes, you are right. The key criteria is consent, consent of those wearing the bikinis.

    The very same people you claim to represent, the bikini wearers, the “exploited ones”, have all (presumedly) given consent to be ‘exploited’. I admire their acting talent as well as their hard work and dedication to achieving their chosen look that they are no doubt proud of. I am an infrequent flier and love the idea of Air New Zealand showing a different themed safety video every time I fly, it keeps it fresh. Well done Air NZ.

    And as for the comment, “why should my daughters be subjected to it”. I would suggest that that if the parents actually asked their daughters about the video, they would not have picked up a single one of your ‘concerns’. There is nothing sexually inappropriate, x-rated or degrading to women about the video. If any parents thought for a second that it was, then they had better not be on the ‘plane taking their kids to anywhere with a beach, that the daytime temperature is over 25 degrees or where there is a theme park with water. In fact, stay away from anywhere that well adjusted, confident, fit and healthy people might be having fun. I would guess that by the time you are done complaining, the very children you are trying to protect will be sick of your prudish draconian ranting and will be embarrassed to be seen with you.

    In short, get a life.

    • Deborah says:

      You’ve missed the point. I’m sure that the models and actors in the video have consented, and that’s fine. However, the passengers haven’t. If as a passenger, you consent, then that’s fine too. But as a passenger, I *don’t* consent. I really really don’t want a side serve of soft porn with my flight. And I especially don’t want to be told that I *must* watch it.

    • Mike@nz says:

      With all due respect Deborah, it is you who has missed the point.

      This is not soft porn. It is swimsuit models (too bloody skinny to be attractive in my opinion, but that’s another story) wearing swimsuits. No different to teenage girls at a public swimming pool, models at the World of Wearable arts, well fitting jeans or the All Blacks on the rugby field. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and beauty is everywhere you look if “that is your thing,” high school uniforms, sports outfits, business suits, high heels, short skirts, cleavage, the colour pink, girls driving sports cars, department store lingerie departments, the women’s Black Sticks.

      Oh my god, the whole world is nothing but a tease! Hell, even the Briscoes lady turns some people on! What about that Tony Street? Phoooar!

      You are trying to find a story where there isn’t one. We are not in the 1950’s any more Dr Ropata. It is liberals and feminists who have spent the last 30 years fighting (quite successfully) for a more permissive society…you can’t have it both ways. Loosen up and get a life.

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