Members of Parliament (MPs) have sworn in on a variety of texts including a book of children’s Māori proverbs, the Koran, and the Bill of Rights on day one of the 53rd Parliament.
Parliament opens this week over two days, the first of which is called the Commission Opening.
This involves the Governor General sending three Commissioners to instruct Parliament to do whatever it needs to do to officially open.
One of those opening tasks involves MPs each making an Oath of Allegiance or an affirmation to the Sovereign (currently Queen Elizabeth II).
“I, ..., swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”
“I, ..., solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors, according to law.”
MPs have traditionally held a copy of the Bible (or just an Old or New Testament) while they take the oath but this has expanded in recent Parliaments and they can hold anything that they declare is binding to them.
Green Party MP Marama Davidson held a copy of Children’s whakatauki (Māori Proverbs) while Māori Party MP Rawiri Waititi held a Ringatū prayer book and delivered a haka about Te Tiriti o Waitangi in relation to the oath before being sworn in.
ACT Party MP David Seymour chose the Bill of Rights Act 1990 and Labour MP Ibrahim Omer held the Koran.
Not all MPs held a book - Māori MP Debbie Ngarewa-Packer held a mere in addition to a copy of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and Green MP Ricardo Menéndez-March held pounamu given to him by Auckland Action Against Poverty for which he has been a spokesperson.
In addition to the variety of sacred objects and texts, many MPs took the oath or affirmation in a language of their choosing.
The terms of the Oath and Affirmation are set out in law and can be taken in English or te reo Māori but MPs are allowed to repeat it afterwards in another language.
This year ten languages other than English and te reo Māori were spoken by MPs swearing in: Mandarin, Samoan, Tongan, Rotuman, Korean, Dutch, Cantonese, Arabic, Sanskrit, and Cook Island Māori.
After all 120 MPs were sworn in the House got to it’s first real piece of business and re-elected Labour MP Trevor Mallard as the Speaker. After a few quick round of speeches of affirmation on that choice the new Speaker then closed proceedings for the day.
The Speaker (accompanied by the senior Clerks and MPs) then travelled to Government House to inform the Governor General of his election and to assert “the rights and privileges” of the Parliament.
All the freshly minted MPs will return for the State Opening and the Governor General's delivery of the Speech from the Throne tomorrow (Thursday 26 November).