New Zealand has changed a rule that made it mandatory for male politicians to wear ties to parliament after a Māori politician was kicked out for refusing to wear one.
Rawiri Waititi, the co-leader of New Zealand’ Maori Party, wore a hei-tiki, a traditional Māori pendant to the parliament on Tuesday Feb. 9, and was ejected by the Speaker, Trevor Mallard.
Waititi defended his decision, saying he was wearing “Māori business attire and a Māori tie,” but was still told to leave the chamber. “It’s not about ties, it’s about cultural identity mate,” Waititi said while he exited the chamber, local media reported.
He had previously been prevented from speaking after he removed his tie, which he has referred to as a “colonial noose,” in his first speech in parliament in December last year.
“As far as many New Zealanders are concerned, this is a tie,” Waititi said about his hei-tiki after he was ejected on Tuesday, NZ Herald reported. “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.”
Following the controversy, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said it was not something she has “a particular strong opinion on,” adding that “There are much more important issues. I’m sure this can be resolved. I don’t think most New Zealanders care about ties.”
A day later, Mallard announced that the Standing Orders committee had discussed the issue and decided that ties would no longer be required, and Waititi was allowed to speak without wearing a tie.
The tie requirement has been about since Britain’s colonial rule of New Zealand; the UK ditched the equivalent of the rule in 2017, according to the New York Times.