Te Pāti Māori MPs defend Parliament swearing-in actions, Shane Jones calls it 'excessive'

Te Pāti Māori's co-leaders have defended their actions at the swearing-in ceremony at Parliament on Tuesday, which included going off-script at one critical point.    

The party's MPs all broke with protocol on Tuesday by standing and giving a whaikorero when it was their turn to be sworn in. In their speeches, they swore allegiance to mokopuna and said they would exercise their duties in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  

They each then approached the Clerk of the House to give their affirmations of allegiance to King Charles III, allowing them to become MPs.  

But a number of them – including co-leaders Rawiri Waititi, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Tākuta Ferris – didn't follow the script.  

According to the Parliament website, the te reo affirmation is: "Ko ahau, ko …… e kī ana i runga i te pono, i te tika, i te ngākau tapatahi me te whakaū anō ka noho pirihonga, ka noho pūmau ki a Kīngi Tiāre te Tuatoru me tōna kāhui whakaheke e ai ke te ture."  

However, the MPs instead said, "Kingi harehare".  

According to the Māori Dictionary, harehare can mean a "skin rash" or "eczema". It can mean something objectionable.  

But that wasn't what they were meaning, Waititi told media afterwards.  

"Harehare is another name for Charles. Yes, Hare is another name for Charles," he said.  

Asked if there was another meaning, Waititi said: "I don't know."  

"Those are the words we use on the coast."  

Ngarewa-Packer said: "I am sure there are lots of meanings for lots of things."  

But New Zealand First MP Shane Jones knew of the second meaning.  

"They are trying to make fun of the transliteration Hare, which if said as harehare is kind of a transliteration of Charlie, but it also means something objectionable."  

He said the guts of the oath was addressed by the Te Pāti Māori MPs.  

"But know this from me, I put my Māori language ability up against anyone in this House and when I detect that the language is being used for cultural bullying, they're going to meet a bigger bully in the form of Matua."  

Jones wasn't impressed with Te Pāti Māori's actions in the House, calling them "excessive".  

"It is preposterous that the Māori Party should think that they are the authentic voice for Māori New Zealanders. I remind everyone again that party got less than 3 percent of the vote and a lot of their party voters were not Maori, a lot of them were hippies."  

Waititi said that the party had made it clear they had "disdain" with the current oath.  

"We swore our own oath, how we think an oath should be sworn in Aotearoa. It should reflect Ti Tiriti o Waitangi, but there also should be a commitment to our mokopuna. That's exactly what you hear today was a commitment to up upholding the mana of our Mokopuna."  

He said the party was also acknowledging the relationship between tangata whenua and the Crown.  

Ngarewa-Packer said there should be an option to swear allegiance to both the King and Te Tiriti.  

"I think what we've introduced is how easy it could be done. No one was offended except for a couple on [the Government side of the House]."  

Earlier on Tuesday, Te Pāti Māori supported protest action across the country in opposition to Government actions. 

Advertising for that event included two pistols with flags coming out of them.  

Asked if that was appropriate, Waititi said it was "provocative" and "symbolic of what our people have faced".  

"The pistol isn't a traditional Māori weapon. It was used against us. All it is is just a symbol of our oppression. It's a symbol of the state-sponsored terrorism that our people have faced over many, many hundreds of years."  

Ngarewa-Packer called it "contemporary Māori art".  

"The expression was about Ti Tiriti and often it's about the person who created the art and what was his intention. We know his intention was to remind of our colonised past and to actually focus on the future."  

But Jones called the two pistols "gross" and "objectionable".  

"I just really feel that as senior parliamentarians, you shouldn't be using guns in any manner or form even if it is a theatrical thing."