A member of the Maori Party in New Zealand refused to comply with the obligation to wear a tie in Parliament – thus not only achieving a change in parliamentary rules, but also sparking a debate on social networks.
Roeri Watiti appeared in a plenary session on Tuesday, without a draw. The dress code with tie comes from the colonial era, and the politician wrote on Facebook to justify this: “I took off the colonial tie as evidence that they continue to colonize and suppress Maori rights.”
Instead, he showed himself with Hei-Tiki, the typical carved Maori ornament worn around the neck. Speaker of Parliament Trevor Mallard fired him for losing the tie from the room. “It’s ridiculous to ask me to leave Parliament because I want to wear a Hei-Tiki as a cultural work uniform,” Waititi wrote on Twitter. “Hei-Tiki is an optional link, it connects me to my ancestors, my country and my people.”
He was back on Wednesday, again with a Maori necklace. This time, Mallard let him go, saying that a committee would look into the matter that evening.
The committee finally voted to allow work clothes from cultures other than British. Mallard said the decision was not unanimous, but that it was taken by the majority. Since then, a discussion on this topic has erupted in social networks under the hashtag # no2tie (“No to Link”).
After Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won elections last fall, New Zealand’s parliament is more diverse than ever. Maori Foreign Minister Nanaya Mahuta. Ardern showed himself wearing a Maori feather coat kahu huruhuru – to dinner at Buckingham Palace in London in 2018.