Maori party co-leader Rawiri Waititi was expelled from New Zealand’s parliament after denouncing opposition rhetoric as racist and performing a haka.
Waititi said the opposition was inciting racism in New Zealand through its stance on Maori health care. The haka is a ceremonial dance for the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand; It can be challenging and is sometimes done in times of conflict.
The altercation comes after weeks of intense debate, in which the opposition National Party has accused the government of a “separatist agenda” and of creating “two systems in secret.” Their arguments began after the government announced independent and expanded health services for Maori, who generally have far worse health outcomes than other ethnic groups.
“This has incited racism with poison towards Maori, due to this kind of propaganda and rhetoric; we will not take it anymore,” Waititi said, speaking to the reporters outside. “The leader of the opposition has been constantly attacking the Maori to obtain the votes of her Pākehā [non-Māori New Zealander] constituents. That’s all it is “.
Waititi was expelled from the House by President Trevor Mallard, after asking a series of points of order. “For the past two weeks there has been propaganda and racist rhetoric towards Tangata whenua [indigenous people]. That is not only an insult to tangata whenua, but it decreases mana. [dignity] of this House, ”Waititi said.
“When it comes to the rights and points of view of indigenous peoples, those points of view must be those of those indigenous peoples,” he said, in a second point of order.
When Mallard asked him to sit down, he instead entered the parliament center to perform a haka, and was subsequently expelled.
“There are several worlds here, and they are colliding,” said Labor MP Aupito William Sio, as members of parliament continued to debate. “Because the system here is not an indigenous system … there is a duty of care in the way we approach it, the way it is managed in this Chamber has knock-on effects for the community in general.” He said part of the discussion on race and politics in the House was “painful” for minority groups. “There is a line that is often crossed here.”
“The tangata whenua are a minority in this House and cannot express their offense [under the current rules]”Said Green Party co-leader James Shaw. Co-leader Marama Davidson said via Twitter that she applauded Waititi and co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer Ngarewa-Packer for “criticizing Judith Collins’ outright racist comments in the House at this time.”
“This House absolutely deserves better,” he said.
Speakers from ACT and National said the House should allow free and open debate.
Mallard issued a ruling “asking people to be careful when expressing themselves, to think about the broader consequences while doing so.” He said that he would not rule against MPs who said that politics was based on race or was racist, or that the opinions of other members were racist.
In February, Waititi was expelled from the House for not wearing a tie. He said he had chosen to wear cultural clothing in defiance of the dress code: Waititi has dubbed the ties a “colonial rope” and wore a necklace of pounamu, or greenstone, instead of a tie. The house rules were subsequently revised to remove the tie requirement.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism