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'It's about cultural identity' - Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi booted from House for refusing to wear tie

"It’s not about ties, it’s about cultural identity," Māori Party's co-leader Rawiri Waititi could be heard saying after being kicked out of Parliament for his continual refusal to wear a tie. 

Rawiri Waititi. Source: Getty

The issue of wearing ties in Parliament began last year, after Speaker Trevor Mallard considered scrapping the rule that men must wear ties in the House. It was dropped earlier this month and ties remained in the rulebook. 

In December, Waititi was told he would not be allowed to speak in Parliament again until he wore a tie, something he referred to as a "colonial noose". 

On the first day of Parliament for 2021, Waititi entered the House without a tie. 

Mallard today told Parliament he noted one MP was not wearing a tie. Mallard said his own personal view was that ties "are outdated but that was not the view of the overwhelming majority of members".

He told Waititi he would not call on him to speak while he was not wearing a tie and he was not to enter the house again without one. 

Waititi then stood and told Mallard what he was wearing "is Māori business attire and a Māori tie". 

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Mallard also reflected on the changes to dress code in the 36 years he has been an MP. Source: 1 NEWS

Waititi said a review in 2017 supported members wearing dressing in formal wear of the cultures they identify with. Mallard told Waititi he had noted his comments and "he hasn’t convinced me".

Later, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer stood and asked Mallard why he was "denying Maori culture, their attire and his (Waititi's) heitiki (pounamu pendant)". 

In response, Mallard said the expression used in Standing Orders was 'business attire'.

He said the Māori Party did not respond to consultation and the "the significant majority of members who responded made it clear ties were part of business attire".

"My own sympathies are with an abandonment of ties. But that is not the view of members who responded."

Waititi attempted to speak once again, but was booted from the House by Mallard for continuing to try to talk in the House. 

On the way out, Waititi said, "it’s not about ties it’s about cultural identity".