Maori lawmaker told to leave parliament for appearing without a tie
WELLINGTON (NEW ZEALAND) – Forcing one to adhere to a Western dress code is a breach of rights and an attempt to suppress indigenous culture, said a Maori leader in New Zealand who was evicted from Parliament this week for refusing to wear a necktie in the chamber.
Lawmaker Rawiri Waititi was prevented from asking questions twice in the House on Tuesday by Speaker Trevor Mallard who insisted that MPs could ask a question only if they were wearing a tie.
When the lawmaker hailing from the indigenous community continued with his question despite being interrupted a second time, the Speaker told him to leave the chamber.
“It’s not about ties, it’s about cultural identity, mate,” Waititi said as he walked out.
The parliament of New Zealand is one of the most inclusive ever in the country and half of the 120 seats are held by women.
There is a 11% LGBTQI representation and 21% seats are set apart for Maori members. After the election in October last year, the Chamber saw its first African MP and another parliamentarian of Sri Lankan descent.
The Maori leader, who terms ties as a colonial noose, was warned last year that he would be evicted from the House if he came without one. On Tuesday, he came wearing a taonga, a Maori greenstone pendant instead of a necktie.
On Tuesday, while Mallard said that he considered ties to be outdated, most of the members asked that the rule be retained following consultations on the issue.
In the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday, Waititi said his action was not centred around ties, but about the right of the indigenous people in parliament or in the pub.
“I took off the colonial tie as a sign that it continued to colonise, to choke and to suppress out Māori rights that Mallard suggests gives us all equality,” Waititi said.
“This is about more than just the tie or the taonga, this has everything to do with equality.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it did not matter if one wore a tie in parliament or not.
“There are much more important issues for all of us,” Ardern said.