Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime speaks out after being told not to speak te reo

Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime has defended her right to speak te reo Māori in Parliament after a member of the public asked her to stop. 

Ms Prime, a list MP based in Northland and first elected in 2017, shared a screenshot of a message she was sent from a person whose name has been redacted.

Under the subject line 'What did you say?' the person says they were watching Parliament's proceedings on Sky TV, which does not provide on the spot translation.

"Like nearly all people living in New Zealand, I don't speak Maori," they said.

"Is it your intention to provide the opportunity for us to refill our teacups or visit the toilet while you speak? If not, you might like to join your peers and say it in English."

A screenshot of the message sent to Ms Prime.
A screenshot of the message sent to Ms Prime. Photo credit: Facebook/Willow-Jean Prime

Ms Prime pointed out the person could watch videos from Parliament online and turn the captions on, or wait to read the full translation in the Hansard online which is "usually a few days later". 

On her Facebook page Ms Prime said she bumped into her uncle shortly after reading the message, who she said is her "inspiration to keep learning and speaking".

"I remember hearing Uncle Wassie say at the opening of the Ngati Hine FM studio in Kawakawa that he knows that there isn't a topic that he can't speak about in Te Reo - anything, anywhere, so let's speak it!" she said.