10 Feb 2021

Speaker rules tie requirement to be dropped from Parliament

9:50 pm on 10 February 2021

Speaker Trevor Mallard has decided it will no longer be compulsory for male MPs to wear ties at Parliament.

No caption

Speaker Trevor Mallard says his decision will close the door on "this chapter". Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The Standing Orders committee met this evening to discuss the dress code and to hear from the Māori Party, after co-leader Rawiri Waititi and Mallard clashed in the House this week over the rules.

Waititi was booted out of the debating chamber on Tuesday for refusing to wear a tie. He argued he was wearing Māori business attire with a hei tiki around his neck, but Mallard said he wasn't convinced.

Mallard said the Standing Orders committee didn't reach a consensus about the rules, but agreed something needed to change.

"In the Standing Orders committee where every party is represented ... it became clear to me there that there was a distinct majority for making ties optional. I think the majority of male members will still wear them, but the idea that they are compulsory is one which lives a bit in the past," Mallard said.

Shortly after the meeting, Mallard decided ties will no longer be compulsory.

It comes just one week after he ruled the requirement to wear a tie would remain as that was the will of the majority of MPs.

Mallard last year reconsidered the rule and asked MPs for feedback, but today said there was an "unbalanced cross section of members who replied and those who made submissions at that time did not reflect the views of the Parliament overall," he said.

Rawiri Waititi speaks to media after being kicked out of the house by Speaker Trevor Mallard for not wearing a tie when asking questions.

The decision comes after Rawiri Waititi and Trevor Mallard clashed in the House this week over the rules. Photo: RNZ / Katie Scotcher

There was now a better understanding of the differing views, Mallard said.

"Rawiri Waititi has helped by focusing on the issue ... I think it got slightly diverted into hei tiki rather than ties, but I think we've now got something that most Parliamentarians will be able to live with," he said.

Mallard said his decision would close the door on "this chapter" of the tension between himself and Waititi, but added he was "certain" there would be more tension between the pair in the future.

Mallard has long-held the view that the requirement to wear a tie is out-dated, but said this change in rules was a sign of generational change.

"My father's generation were the great tie wearers, my generation, many, many of the people who are professionals who I work with very rarely wear ties and I think that's a good thing and I think many people will be pleased to be rid of them," he said.