Tie-breaker: Mallard changes course, makes ties optional in Parliament

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Feb 2021, 8:24PM
Rawiri Waititi has forced a rule change. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Rawiri Waititi has forced a rule change. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Tie-breaker: Mallard changes course, makes ties optional in Parliament

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Feb 2021, 8:24PM

Speaker Trevor Mallard has announced that ties are no longer mandatory in Parliament.

It comes days after a dress code stoush between him and Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi, which saw Waititi booted out for not wearing a tie.

Mallard said a meeting of the committee discussed the topic of appropriate business attire tonight.

"The committee did not reach a consensus but the majority of the committee was in favour of removing a requirement for ties to be part of 'appropriate business attire' for males," he said in a Tweet.

"As Speaker, I am guided by the committee's discussion and decision, and therefore ties will no longer be considered required as part of 'appropriate business attire'. I acknowledge those who felt this was an important issue worthy of further consideration."

Mallard kicked Waititi out of the House on Tuesday afternoon for not wearing a Western-style tie. He was wearing a traditional Māori hei-tiki instead.

During Tuesday's question time, Waititi tried to ask a question but Mallard told him to sit down as he had made it clear male MPs could only ask questions if they were wearing a tie.

Waititi tried again later and was again shut down by Mallard.

His co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, who was wearing a tie, pleaded his case but Mallard did not change his mind and Waititi was booted out of the House.

Speaking to media after being ejected for not wearing a traditional Western-style tie, Waititi said the Speaker's conduct was now becoming "unconscionable".

"It's forcing indigenous people into wearing what I described as a colonial noose."

He said the tie rule was outdated.

"As far as many New Zealanders are concerned, this is a tie," he said pointing to his hei-tiki.

"This is a tie to my people, this is a tie to the plight, this is a tie to the very reasons I stand in this place to fight for our rights."

In an opinion piece, Waititi said the situation was about more than just a tie or taonga.

"This has everything to do with equality," he wrote.

He also expressed his disappointment on Twitter after Mallard's decision.

Late last year, Waititi was warned that he faced being ejected from the House if he did not wear a tie, after refusing to wear one, and in his maiden speech to Parliament he said in te reo: "Take the noose from around my neck so that I may sing my song."

Last year Mallard said he was open to relaxing the rules around ties in the House.

He had asked all MPs for their opinion as to whether or not MPs should be wearing ties in Parliament.

But that feedback came back in the affirmative and the rule stayed.

"A significant majority of members who responded opposed any change to dress standards for the Debating Chamber," Mallard said at the time.

"Having considered those views, I have decided that no change in current standards is warranted. Business attire, including a jacket and tie for men, remains the required dress standard."