Up to Māori to decide Māori business attire

By Te Ao - Māori News

The role of the heitiki has been thrust into the spotlight this week after Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi was ejected from the House for wearing one, instead of a traditional tie as part of business attire, in Parliament's debating chamber. 

Waititi said wearing a heitiki was "Māori business attire".

Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard has since agreed to allow cultural attire such as heitiki to be worn instead of ties. That comes after Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngawera-Packer twice made submissions to the standing orders committee, asking that heitiki be recognised as cultural attire and that ties be recognised as colonial, thus inappropriate for Māori MPs.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Te Paenga Hira Māori curator Chanel Clarke spoke toTe Ao Tapatahi this morning about how traditional "Māori business attire" had evolved, and said, "we are tripping ourselves up a bit on the term 'traditional'."

"If we think about business attire, it essentially comes from a white-collar businessman," Chanel says.

"Traditional Māori business attire, I guess that's up to Māori, as Rawiri has alerted us all to. For him, it is the wearing of his heitiki."