Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi has been booted out of Parliament this afternoon after a dress code scuffle with Speaker Trevor Mallard.
The stoush between Mallard and Waititi is the latest in an ongoing skirmish between the two MPs.
Speaking to media after being ejected for not wearing a traditional Western-style tie, Waititi said the Speaker’s conduct was now becoming “uncontainable”.
“It’s forcing indigenous people into wearing what I described as a colonial noose.”
Waititi entered Parliament this afternoon wearing a hei tiki shaped tanga around his neck.
Early in question time, he tried to ask a question – Mallard told him to sit down as he had made it clear male MPs could only ask questions if they were wearing a tie.
Waititi tried again later and was again shut down by Mallard.
But he did not stop talking when the Speaker told him to take his seat and was subsequently ejected by Mallard.
As he was leaving, Waititi said: “This is not about ties, it is about cultural identity.”
His co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, who was wearing a tie, attempted pleaded his case but Mallard did not change his mind.
Late last year, Waititi was warned that he faced being ejected from the House if he did not wear a tie, after refusing to wear one, and in his maiden speech to Parliament he said in te reo: “Take the noose from around my neck so that I may sing my song.”
Speaking to reporters after his ejection today, Waititi said the tie rule was outdated.
“As far as many New Zealanders are concerned, this is a tie,” he said pointing to his hei tiki shaped tanga around his neck.
“This is a tie to my people, this is a tie to the plight, this is a tie to the very reasons I stand in this place to fight for our rights.”
He pointed out that “a foreigner” – Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March, who is of Mexican descent – was allowed to wear a Bona bolo tie.
“But we are not allowed, as Māori, to wear the same,” he said.
“This is, I think, a breach of the rights of indigenous peoples – we have the freedom to express our cultural identity in a space like this.”
He said pointed out that the incident occurred soon after Waitangi Day which shows that relations between Māori and taiwi (non-Māori) is “a long way off”.
Asked if he planned to wear a tie tomorrow, he said: “You will have to wait until tomorrow”.
Late last year, Mallard said he was open to relaxing the rules around ties in the House.
He had asked all MPs for their opinion as to whether or not MPs should be wearing ties in Parliament.
That feedback came back in the affirmative and the rule stayed.
“A significant majority of members who responded opposed any change to dress standards for the Debating Chamber,” Mallard said.
“Having considered those views, I have decided that no change in current standards is warranted. Business attire, including a jacket and tie for men, remains the required dress standard.”
Waititi calls decision “absurd”
Waititi has tweeted his disappointment following Mallard’s decision, saying “the Speaker has set one precedent for some members of but not for everyone”.
“Being told to leave the house because of my choice to wear hei-tiki as cultural business attire is absurd,” he added.
“My hei-tiki is my tie of choice. It ties me to my tīpuna, whenua, and people. We have made it known that this party will not be subjugated nor assimilated to dated colonial rules,” the MP added.
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