Wellington | The New Zealand Parliament backed down on Wednesday, the day after a Maori lawmaker was expelled for refusing to wear a tie, and allowed him to speak without the accessory he called “a colonial knot.” “.
The problem arose on Tuesday when the co-leader of the Maori party was kicked out of the chamber for not wearing the required attire during the question period.
Mr Waititi, who has a traditional Maori or Ta moko tattoo all over his face and wears a black cowboy hat, defended himself by claiming to wear traditional Maori attire for this type of function.
“It is not a matter of tie but of cultural identity”, launched the parliamentarian leaving the hemicycle, who sees in this accessory “a colonial knot”.
The Maori population makes up about 15% of New Zealand’s five million inhabitants.
It is the most disadvantaged in the country, with rates of poverty, unemployment and incarceration higher than those of the average population.
For many Maori, these injustices date back to when New Zealand was a British colony.
Mr Waititi said the issue of wearing a tie is indicative of the race relations that need to improve further in the South Pacific nation.
“It is a violation of the rights of indigenous peoples, we (must) have the freedom to express our cultural identity in a space like this,” he said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she saw no objection to parliamentarians not wearing the tie.
“There are much bigger questions for all of us,” she said.
After strictly enforcing the dress code on Tuesday, Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard was much less strict on Wednesday when Mr Waititi, who was still not wearing a tie, spoke on Wednesday.
Instead of expelling him, Mr. Mallard simply let him ask a question, later claiming that a change in the regulations was being considered.
Mr Waititi was first elected to Parliament last year. In his first speech he recounted how one of his ancestors had been wrongly hanged by the British for murder.