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New Zealand MP stopped from speaking in parliament because he wasn't wearing a tie

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Rawiri Waititi in a photo supplied by the Maori Party.
Rawiri Waititi in a photo supplied by the Maori Party.   -   Copyright  Māori Party o Aotearoa - Katene Durie
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A New Zealand MP said it was "absurd" that he was not allowed to speak in parliament for refusing to wear a tie, calling the dress attire rules "colonial".

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi was wearing a pendant called a hei-tiki instead of a tie at the first sitting of the country's parliament in 2021 and was not allowed to speak or make a point of order.

"My hei-tiki is my tie of choice. It ties me to my tīpuna, whenua, and people. We have made it known that this party will not be subjugated nor assimilated to dated colonial rules," Waititi said, stating that it constituted "Māori business attire".

The debating chamber requires men to wear a jacket and tie as part of "business attire".

Last year the necktie rule was reviewed by Speaker Trevor Mallard, but he said that many members were opposed to changing the rules.

Speaker Mallard said the Māori Party did not respond to the "consultation" and that although personally he wanted to abandon ties, members who responded did not. Waititi argued that he did not need to make a submission and that it would have gotten lost.

In an email released by Waititi, Mallard said that a review of the Standing Orders "supported members dressing in formal wear of the cultures they identify with" which is what the Māori Party argued he was doing.

"I will not be forced to wear a tie.. this is about standing up against subjugation or assimilation," Waititi said in an interview with Radio New Zealand.

"Parliament should be a place where we can freely practise our democracy and represent the people that voted us in. I'll tell you what. The majority of people who voted me in are not business attire people."

This is not the first time Waititi has objected to wearing a tie. In a previous speech in parliament, Waititi removed his tie stating that he was removing the "colonial noose" around his neck.

Green Party MP Ricardo Menéndez March said he was "100%" in agreement with Waititi.

"The colonial, outdated dress code won’t stop us from doing the work on economic & climate justice, but it’s an imposition that prevents many from being their authentic selves."

But not everyone in parliament appeared to agree on the topic.

Labour party MP Tāmati Coffey, who previously lost an election to Waititi, said he would wear his tie and his "pounamu" (a type of hei tiki).

Coffey wrote on Facebook: "You are not there to fight with the speaker about ties. That kind of politics serves no one but yourself."

"While you are having a standoff with the Speaker, Labour’s Maori Caucus will be over here getting Maori histories taught in Kura next year, getting ready to celebrate our first Matariki public holiday, and urgently passing Maori Wards legislation through Parliament," Coffey said.