24 Aug 2022

Parliament elects a new Speaker

From The House , 6:55 pm on 24 August 2022

A new Speaker of Parliament was elected today, although a disruptive speech from a rebel MP briefly threatened to spoil the occasion.

The only nominee for the Speaker's position was the MP for Te Tai Hauāuru, Adrian Rurawhe, who takes over from Trevor Mallard who resigned after five years in the role.

Parliament elects Adrian Rurawhe as its new Speaker.

Adrian Rurawhe during the election of him as Parliament Speaker Photo: Phil Smith

As deputy speaker for the past couple of years, Adrian Rurawhe had plenty of practice managing the responsibilities of Speaker. With more experience than any other previous deputy speaker, he was ready to hit the ground running.

“I think it’s really important that I state here today that I will carry on the long tradition of upholding the rights and privileges of this House. I think it’s important that all of those rights are upheld and acknowledged - rights and privileges like freedom of speech.

"You are all the voices of all of the people that you represent, and it’s important that their voices are heard. We may disagree with each other on both sides of the House, but it’s really important that those voices are heard.

“I can say to the House that it’s my expectation that the House will hold the government to account,” Rurawhe said, adding that he would look to bring change where it is needed.

“I have noticed a few things about Question Time that I think could be improved,” he said to applause, “and unfortunately they are numerous!” to which laughter broke out.

“However, some small things could happen—for example, the Government holding itself to account by asking itself questions; some of the answers to those supplementary questions need to be a bit shorter and more succinct.

“I think I would encourage Ministers—and it's quite interesting and a little bit puzzling, actually, that the Government sometimes end question times with a significant number of unused supplementaries. I think some of those supplementaries should be used in this way: some of those answers should be cut down and be less speech-like and more succinct. You could achieve that by asking more supplementaries; failure to do so will see the Opposition receive more supplementaries to do it. That is one thing I can do; there are others as well.”

Parliament elects Adrian Rurawhe as its new Speaker.

Marama Davidson speaks in acknowledgement of Adrian Rurawhe after he was elected Speaker of Parliament Photo: Phil Smith

‘One of the hardest jobs in Parliament’

Respected and regarded fondly by his MP peers, Adrian Rurawhe was also well supported in the chamber by whanau and friends whose impressive singing skills were on display in beautiful waiata. 

Rurawhe has his own style as Speaker, which may be described as quiet but firm, and is quite different to Mallard whose work to "make this place a much better, family-friendly environment" the new Speaker promised to continue.

Party leaders took turns to acknowledge the new Speaker, as well as the outgoing Speaker.

“It was a few years ago now, that I remember having a conversation with our Speaker-Elect about the possibility of taking on a role in the offices of the House, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recalled.

“It was fair to say there was some hesitancy. In my mind, this was the first sign that you were perfect for the role. Since that time, the House has had the pleasure of seeing the many skills that you bring to this position. And I want to acknowledge the outgoing Speaker for the fact that he saw fit to ensure that you had the ability to sit in this House and preside over it and transition into the role that you now have. There will be an opportunity to pay tribute to the outgoing Speaker on another occasion.”

Parliament elects Adrian Rurawhe as its new Speaker.

  Whanau and friends of Adrian Rurawhe sing during the occasion of his election as Speaker of Parliament Photo: Phil Smith

The Green Party’s Marama Davidson first paid tribute to Trevor Mallard for holding down “one of the hardest jobs in Parliament”.

“Trevor has demanded better for us all here in Parliament, not just in the Chamber today but fighting for the living wage for cleaning and catering staff, valuing their mahi and their right to live better lives; making this place much more family-friendly; and for dogs.”

Of Rurawhe, Davidson acknowledged his love for his people of Rātana, and the history and the legacy that his whakapapa brings to the job

“I note that there are—I don't know—400-and-something rules that you already have confessed not to know individually and expertly, but my goodness, Mr Speaker-Elect, those rules are nothing compared to the challenge that was laid to you at the pōwhiri today for upholding kaupapa Māori tikanga in this House. I wish you the best of luck in trying to align that accountability, that only a speaker of Māori would understand in that job. I know and I can say with every confidence that having that lens of kaupapa Māori tikanga in this place would be better for all of us. So I welcome the expertise that you bring into this area.”

Parliament elects Adrian Rurawhe as its new Speaker.

Recently expelled from the Labour Party caucus, Gaurav Sharma used the occasion of election of a new Speaker of Parliament to attack his former colleagues. Photo: Phil Smith

Early tests

The Speaker-Elect was subject to a couple of early tests in the form of awkward speeches which hijacked an otherwise warm atmosphere - firstly when ACT Party’s David Seymour spoke and criticised the former Speaker at length.

“I think it's important—and I'm sure you will do this, and I have great and sincere hope for you, your personality, and mana—that you'll rise above partisan politics and treat members with grace and respect. You know, when I was a sole and relatively junior MP, I was treated so badly by your predecessor that often senior members of his party came up to me and apologised for him. You'll face a similar dilemma with Gaurav Sharma, someone who you may have voted to expel from the Labour Party on Monday. You'll be responsible for upholding his rights tomorrow,” Seymour said.

The Speaker-Elect decided that discretion was the better part of valor in this case. But when Gaurav Sharma himself stepped up to speak and used it to target Mallard and the Labour Party after it expelled him from its caucus this week, Rurawhe shut it down.

“That is not the purpose of this debate. You're raising issues that this House is not dealing with at this moment,” Rurawhe told Sharma who used Parliamentary Privilege to speak.

“I will interrupt the member again if he goes off track. This is about…” - it was here that Adrian Rurawhe stalled, as it didn’t seem natural for him to say that the occasion was all about him; and recognising this, his MP colleagues laughed in appreciation of his humility - “...this is about the newly elected Speaker.”

With that behind him, he thanked everyone for their words and adjourned the House until tomorrow, going on to Government House to receive credentials from the Governor-General, upon which he formally assumed the role of Speaker of Parliament.

The newly elected Speaker of Parliament, Adrian Rurawhe, follows the Serjeant-at-Arms, Steve Streefkerk, as the delegation heads for Government House to receive credentials from the Governor-General to formally assume the role of Speake. 24 August 2022.

The newly elected Speaker of Parliament, Adrian Rurawhe, follows the Serjeant-at-Arms, Steve Streefkerk, as the delegation heads for Government House to receive credentials from the Governor-General to formally assume the role of Speake. 24 August 2022. Photo: Johnny Blades



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