20 Dec 2011

Greens and Mana want wording of oath changed

7:42 pm on 20 December 2011

The Green and Mana parties are calling for the wording of the oath used when MPs are sworn in to be changed.

The 50th Parliament was formally opened for the next three-year term on Tuesday. The Clerk swore in the 121 MPs using an oath or declaration of allegiance to the Queen that can be read in either English or Maori.

When Mana Party leader Hone Harawira was returned to Parliament after the by-election for Te Tai Tokerau earlier this year, he initially refused to swear the oath.

On Tuesday, Mr Harawira declared his allegiance to the Queen - but only after he had said a few words in Maori to the House, acknowledging the Treaty of Waitangi.

Green MPs also read the declaration as written, though the party says the oath is old-fashioned and should include a reference to the Treaty.

Co-leader Metiria Turei says the Government should initiate a cross-party process to modernise the oath and other practices, like the daily prayer, which she says have become out of step with the views of New Zealanders.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says he would prefer to pledge allegiance to the New Zealand people.

But the Prime Minister and leader of the National Party, John Key, is happy with the oath and says MPs should pledge allegiance to the Queen.

There would have to be a law change to alter the wording - something the Greens and Mana say they will pursue in this term in Parliament.

National Party MP Lockwood Smith, who held the position of Speaker in the last term of Parliament, was re-elected unopposed to the role.