11 May 2018

NZ Tongan MP vows to fight on with oath of allegiance bid

7:52 am on 11 May 2018

A Tongan New Zealand member of parliament is vowing to continue to fight to have oaths of allegiance recognised in their mother tongues.

Currently, New Zealand's parliament only recognises members swearing their allegiance in English and Te Reo Maori.

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Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki swearing her oath in parliament Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

The bill, sponsored by Labour's Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki, sought to allow members to choose the language which best suited them when being sworn in.

She said this reflected the increased diversity of modern New Zealand, and would allow Pacific people to better understand the gravity of the act.

The bill was defeated 65 votes to 54 in its first reading last week but Ms Kanongata'a-Suisuiki vowed to fight on and quoted a Maori proverb.

"Kaua e mate wheke, mate ururoa!

"Which means, don't die like an octopus, die like a hammerhead," she said.

"Octopus are renowned for their lack of resistance when being captured, however a hammerhead shark will fight bitterly to the end."

Currently, members of parliament can seek permission from the speaker to use their mother tongue but agreement has to be sought from every member of the house.