A Maori politician who claims a necktie symbolises “a colonial noose” was ejected from New Zealand’s Parliament when he defied custom and entered without one.
Speaker Trevor Mallard twice prevented Rawiri Waititi from asking questions in the debating chamber on Tuesday, insisting lawmakers could only ask a question if they were wearing a tie.
Waititi, 40, who became an MP for the first time in the election last October, was wearing a taonga, a Maori greenstone pendant instead, Reuters reports.
When Waititi continued with his question after being stopped a second time, Mallard ordered him to leave on the basis the current dress code specifies “business attire.”
“It’s not about ties, it’s about cultural identity, mate,” Waititi said as he exited the chamber, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Waititi said his action was directed at the right of Māori to be Māori, whether in Parliament or in the pub, a matter of debate he has since sparked by his actions.
“I took off the colonial tie as a sign that it continued to colonise, to choke and to suppress out Māori rights that Mallard suggests gives us all equality,” Waititi said later outside the chamber.
“This is about more than just the tie or the taonga, this has everything to do with equality.”
This was not the first time Waititi had challenged the New Zealand parliament’s dress code. In December, during his maiden speech, he removed his tie and was given a warning.
Asked to comment, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was not something she had a strong opinion on, and that she had no objection to someone wearing a tie in Parliament or not.
“There are much more important issues for all of us,” Ardern said.
In Britain, the requirement for male MPs to wear ties was dropped in 2017.
The then-Speaker John Bercow made the impromptu ruling in the middle of a debate when one MP objected to another asking a question while not wearing a tie.