12 May 2021

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi ejected from Parliament

6:42 pm on 12 May 2021

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi has been kicked out of the House for doing a haka in protest of questions by the Opposition about race-based policy.

Rawiri Waititi  in Parliament, before getting kicked out of the House for doing a haka.

Rawiri Waititi in Parliament, before getting kicked out of the House for doing a haka. Photo: Parliament TV

National leader Judith Collins was asking Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about her views of the He Puapua report, which suggests ways government can give effect to tino rangatiratanga by sharing power with iwi and hapū.

She has been pursuing this line of questioning for the past two weeks, including questions to Ardern about the powers of the proposed Māori Health Authority.

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer asked the prime minister if she believed Collin's "continued attack on Māori was racist", but Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard said that was outside Ardern's area of responsibility.

Collin's resumed her line of questioning, but Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi raised a point of order.

"Over the past two weeks, there has been racist propaganda at rhetoric towards tangata whenua," he said.

"That not only is insulting to tangata whenua but diminishes the mana of this house."

The Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard said some views expressed in the House were uncomfortable for MPs.

"... and there are almost certainly some views that were expressed earlier in my career that would now be regarded as out of order for the reasons that the member has expressed. In my view, we are not at that point now."

Waititi interjected again when Collin's restarted her questions, and he was warned by the Speaker that litigation of the same point would put him at risk of expulsion.

Waititi responded by saying the House was in disrepute if it continued to allow the "constant barrage of insults to tangata whenua".

Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

Māori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

He was told by Mallard to resume his seat, but instead, he stepped forward onto the floor of the chamber and did a haka.

He was then asked to leave and Ngarewa-Packer went with him.

"It's not right that the Speaker hasn't got the courage to stop racism in the House, it's not right that we have to endure it," she told media outside of the House.

"We said when we came into the House that there are things that we would never normalise and especially for the next generation and that's what our stand has to be all the time".

The Māori Party had the support of Green MP Teanau Tuiono, who walked out in solidarity, and said the National Party needed to get with the times.

Waititi said he was sick of the Opposition leader Collins "bashing Māori to gain the votes of her Pākehā constituents".

Collins said it was a "lazy categorisation".

"I will not stop asking questions in Parliament about any constitutional changes that the government seems to be working on until the prime ,inister answers questions directly".

The protest led to a debate on the Speaker's ruling which says the Speaker can intervene if "a personal reflection" is "offensive to the dignity of the whole House", such as lying or racism.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson argued the standard of the House was being bought down "by harmful, racist narratives".

But Act Party MP Nicole McKee, who is Māori, said debate must not be stifled.

"I do not find some of the comments that have been made racist, but rather looking at ways of working through solutions to the issues that have been put in front of us, and the representatives of the minority walked out of this house."

Mallard has ruled that while MPs need to take care with how they express themselves, he would not ask any MP to refrain from suggestions that policies are race-based nor would he stop politicians saying the views of other members were racist.

He said that would get the balance right.

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