Air New Zealand is relaxing its policy of visible tattoos and will get a review panel to rule on cases where it's not clear cut that body art meets acceptable standards.

The airline has bowed to mounting pressure and announced changes to allow all staff to display their ''non-offensive'' tattoos at work and its staff of 12,000 would be encouraged to treat tattoos like speech.

''In the same way you shouldn't swear, make hateful comments, lewd jokes, or use violent language in the workplace for example, the same goes for tattoos,'' said a spokeswoman.

''Where the situation is not clear,