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It's a Necktie to the Speaker, 'Colonial Noose' to an MP

New Zealand's Parliament kicks Maori lawmaker out of session for dress code violation
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2021 3:39 PM CST

(Newser) – The speaker of New Zealand's parliament has thrown a member out of a session for a dress code violation—a dispute the booted Maori Party member said is about cultural identity. Rawiri Waititi twice tried to ask questions during the session but was stopped by Speaker Trevor Mallard because he wasn't wearing a necktie; members can go tieless as long as they don't ask questions. Waititi was warned about the rule late last year, the BBC reports. The MP, who has called ties "a colonial noose," was wearing a greenstone pendant instead of a tie. He described his dress as "Maori business attire." In his first speech on the floor, Waititi told Parliament, "Take the noose from around my neck so that I may sing my song." Mallard reconsidered the rule, consulting other members, but decided last week to keep it.

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The requirement only applies to men, but the party's co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, wore a tie anyway; she tweeted a photo of her with Waititi. Per the Guardian, 21% of the new Parliament is Maori. There have been calls to allow members to wear their culture's versions of business attire. Waititi complained that a Green lawmaker of Mexican descent, whom he called "a foreigner," wore a Bona bolo tie without complaint, per the Herald. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she doesn't mind if members refuse to wear ties, and she doesn't think voters do, either. "This is not about ties, it is about cultural identity," Waititi told reporters as he left. A former political leader spoke up for the dress code, saying, "It's not a bar, or a club, or a business, it's a national Parliament." (The British Parliament changed its rule on ties.)

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