Māori MP Rawiri Waititi ejected from New Zealand parliament in necktie row

Māori party co-leader said he had chosen to wear cultural dress in defiance of dress code which requires men to wear ties

The Māori party co-leader Rawiri Waititi has defied the order to wear a tie in the New Zealand parliament’s debating chamber – and was promptly ejected by the Speaker.

“It’s not about ties it’s about cultural identity mate,” Waititi said as he left the chamber, local media reported.

Earlier, exchanges over the dress code between Waititi and the Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, had grown heated, with Waititi saying he had chosen to wear cultural dress – “Māori business attire” – to the chamber, with a pounamu or greenstone necklace in place of a necktie.

Mallard said Waititi he would not be called on to speak if he was not wearing a tie. When Waititi continued to speak, he was ejected from the chamber.

Waititi has previously described ties as a “colonial noose” and last year he was ejected on the same grounds.

Rawiri Waititi kicked out of Parliament as he attempts supps and a point of order while not wearing a tie. On his way out he says: "It's not about ties it's about cultural identity mate." Mallard noted that the Maori Party did not submit on his review of the tie rule.

— henry cooke (@henrycooke) February 9, 2021

Mallard last week decided to keep the requirement that male MPs wear ties in parliament’s debating chamber, after asking members of parliament to write to him about what constituted appropriate business attire in the House.

Māori party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer decided to wear a tie, despite not being required to as a woman.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she had no personal objection to ties not being worn in parliament, but she thought there were more important issues to discuss in the debating chamber, such as how to solve the housing crisis.

“I don’t think New Zealanders care about ties,” she said.

We’re back in the house for 2021 - @Rawiri_Waititi and I have had our first caucus hui, met new staff, supported petition to stop synthetic fertilisers, challenged the Govt to ban seabed mining and fought for our tikanga to be included in the house. Day one☝🏼 pic.twitter.com/zBej204HGe

— Debbie Ngarewa-Packer MP (@packer_deb) February 9, 2021

The new parliament is the country’s most diverse and inclusive, including 48% women, 11% LGBTQI, 21% Māori, 8.3% Pacific, and 7% Asian New Zealand members. There have been growing calls for members to be allowed to wear cultural interpretations of formal wear, in addition to men being allowed to remove their ties.

Mallard said that in making a decision on mandatory formal wear, he had sided with the majority of those who had written to him wanting the status quo to remain.

“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.”


Eleanor de Jong in Queenstown

The GuardianTramp

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