Rawiri Waititi: Maori MP thrown out of New Zealand parliament debate for doing haka

A Maori MP was thrown out of a New Zealand parliament debate for performing a haka in protest at what he said were racist comments made by an opposition party leader.

Rawiri Waititi objected to a “constant barrage of insults” directed toward Indigenous people, as MPs discussed government plans to set up a new Maori Health Authority as part of sweeping changes to the healthcare system.

Mr Waititi, co-leader of the Maori Party, said the position of some conservative MPs, that the new authority was separatist, amounted to racist rhetoric.

If that kind of attitude was acceptable, he said, “then I find this house in disrepute”.

The MP interrupted Judith Collins, leader of the centre-right Nationalist Party, several times.

Speaker Trevor Mallard then told Mr Waititi to sit down, reminding him his microphone had been turned off.

But instead the MP performed the haka, a traditional dance or challenge accompanied by a chant.

Mr Mallard told Mr Waititi to leave the chamber – which he did, along with his party’s other co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

It is not the first time Mr Waititi has clashed with Mr Mallard.

In February, he won a battle against wearing a tie in the chamber in Wellington, ending a longstanding dress requirement for men that he described as a “colonial noose”.

Mr Mallard also threw out Mr Waititi from the debating chamber during that dispute after Mr Waititi showed up wearing a traditional pendant around his neck called a hei tiki.

But Mr Mallard backed down the next day, saying neckties would no longer be compulsory, after a committee of MPs came out in favour of ending the requirement.

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