Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi highlights unfairness of Speaker allowing Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March to wear Mexican bolo tie

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March and Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi.
Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March and Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi. Photo credit: Parliament TV

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi is ploughing ahead with his mission to ditch necktie rules in Parliament, by highlighting the unfairness of a Green MP being allowed to wear a Mexican bolo tie. 

In a letter to House Speaker Trevor Mallard, Waititi says because Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March is allowed to wear a bolo tie in Parliament - reflecting his Mexican heritage - Māori MPs should be allowed to wear a hei-tiki taonga in place of a tie. 

"The Green Member of Parliament from Mexico wore his own neck adornment that has been sanctioned by you because it is his culture from Mexico," Waititi and co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer say in the letter. 

"It must follow that the wearing of a hei tiki by a Māori Member of Parliament representing the Māori Party and unashamedly Māori must be allowed to wear his cultural statements of identity."

The letter goes on to say: "Any action to not give Māori equality of rights in the House to adorn themselves with their cultural positions, must be seen to be discriminatory, unfair, unjust and unequal."

Mallard has called an urgent meeting to address the issue following a dramatic stoush between him and Waititi in Parliament on Tuesday. 

The Māori Party co-leader was forbidden from speaking and given the boot from Parliament for wearing a hei-tiki taonga and no tie. 

After a meeting between the Speaker and the Māori Party, Waititi told Newshub he was optimistic about change. 

"I think positive, in terms of finding a resolution heading forward. I think there's a mood for change, which is obviously going through some processes to make that happen. The Māori Party is willing to do that because we feel strongly about being able to practice our cultural identity in Parliament."

Hindus have expressed dismay at Waititi's ejection from Parliament.

President of Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed said New Zealand "needed to grow up and show some maturity before ejecting a Māori MP from the Parliament which was built on land discovered by his ancestors". 

Zed is urging Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, Speaker Mallard, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and House Leader Chris Hipkins to publicly apologise to Waititi. 

"It was really worrisome for other minorities when they saw a Māori elected representative, whose ancestors were first settlers of New Zealand, maltreated in the nation's Parliament like this."

Newshub's political editor Tova O'Brien reported that Parliament's dress code could be changed as soon as Wednesday night to accommodate Waititi. 

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