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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.

Image:
Rawiri Waititi speaking before he was ejected

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

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, 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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