Speaker of the Aotearoa/New Zealand House of Representatives Trevor Mallard has announced that male MPs will no longer be required to wear a tie while speaking in Aotearoa/New Zealand’s Parliament.
The decision to scrap the mandate comes after a Māori Party politician was kicked out of the chamber for not wearing a tie.
Co-leader of the Māori Party Rawiri Waititi said he was wearing the Māori equivalent of a tie, a hei-tiki pendant around his neck. He described the pendant as Māori business attire last Tuesday.
Rawiri Waititi attempted to speak in the Aotearoa/New Zealand Parliament last Tuesday but was stopped twice by Mallard.
When he continued to speak, he was ejected from the chamber.
Waititi said forcing him to observe a western dress code was a breach of his rights and an attempt to suppress Indigenous culture.
“It’s not about ties, it’s about cultural identity mate,” he said as he left the chamber.
“This is a breach of the rights of Indigenous peoples, we have the freedom to be able to practice our cultural identity in a space like this.”
Waititi has previously labelled ties a “colonial noose”; he said believed Mallard’s conduct was “unconscionable” and vowed to continue to fight the rule.
“The Māori Party will not be subjugated, we will not be assimilated and that’s exactly how we’ve been treated, and rest assured we will take this further.”
Mallard stood by the dress code.
“The significant majority of members who responded made it clear that ties were part of business attire,” he said.
Māori Party leaders did not participate in the consultation, with Waititi saying he believed his attire would be permitted as a cultural exception.
On Wednesday, Mallard said the majority of the Standing Orders Committee were in favour of removing the requirement for ties to be part of ‘appropriate business attire’ for males.
“As Speaker, I am guided by the committee’s discussion, and therefore ties will no longer be considered required as part of ‘appropriate business attire’,” he said.
Writing in the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday, Waititi said his action was not about ties, but the right of Māori to be Māori whether in Parliament or the pub.
“I took off the colonial tie as a sign that it continued to colonise, to choke and to suppress our Māori rights that Mallard suggests gives us all equality.”
“We’ve just come out of Waitangi Day, and acknowledging the covenant between two nations, Tangata Whenua and Tau iwi — and yet Aotearoa is a long way off from true partnership when foreigners enforce Maori to dress like them,” he wrote.
Waititi was told last year that he would be ejected from the House if he did not wear a tie. Instead, he wore a Taonga, a Māori greenstone pendant.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was not something she had a strong opinion on and that she had no objection to someone wearing a tie in Parliament or not.
“There are much more important issues for all of us,” she said.
By Darby Ingram