A new leader for the National Party will be known today, but a Māori Muslim man believes one of the contenders, Judith Collins, is unfit to be the leader of the opposition.

Practicing Māori Muslim Te Rata Hikairo says Collins’ criticism of the request by a visiting Iranian delegation to not shake hands with a female MP displays a lack of cultural awareness for others.

“Kata pai au ki tēnei wahine e whakaaro ka taea e ia te arahina te āpitihana o Aotearoa me te mea kore ia e mōhio ki ngā tikanga rerekē ā iwi, ā iwi.”

Collins believes it’s a woman’s right to be mutually respected, and that the visiting delegation that came to Aotearoa last week should have known better.

“When people come here as diplomats or visiting MPs, I expect that they’ll want to have briefings on what’s culturally acceptable here. Refusing to shake a hand of a deputy chair of a select committee, who happens to be a woman, is, I think, going too far.”

However, Hikairo says that in Muslim custom, how males greet females is an ultimate form of respect, and Collins’ failure to take this into account deems her unfit to be in a position that engages with many different cultures.

“Ringa ki te ngākau me te piko, he momo whakamana i te wahine, koinā tā rātou ahurea. Ka whakamana au i tērā. E kore e rite tēnei wahine ki te arahi i a Nahinara, i a Aotearoa – kore rawa. Noho a Judith Collins ki tōna tūru.”

Collins’ own husband is from Samoa, and she says she believes her time as Ethnic Communities Minister shows her understanding of cultures.

“I think that all cultures need to take into account the fact that women deserve respect, just like men deserve respect, and that where cultural customs may be being used in a way that actually gives offence – even if they’re not meant to – that needs to be taken into account.”