Māori Party leaders make fiery maiden speeches in Parliament  

By Heta Gardiner

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer gave a fiery maiden speech today, speaking of the rape and murder of Māori ancestors, calling it genocide “sponsored by Members of Parliament”.

Having already walked out of Parliament in protest over speaking rights and co-leader Rawiri Waititi issuing a wero as he was sworn in (though no one acknowledged the challenge), days before they even made their maiden speeches, both co-leaders didn’t hold back when they got the chance.

Ngarewa-Packer first took aim at former parliamentarians. “I stand here as a descendant of a people who survived a holocaust, a genocide sponsored by this House and members of Parliament whose portraits still hang from the walls.”

“Members of this parliament sought our extermination and created legislation to achieve it. They confiscated all our whenua, imprisoned us without trial, raped and murdered our women and children and deliberately engineered our displacement for generations to come.”

Recalling their tupuna

Ngarewa-Packer also spoke of her own tipuna. “I am the third generation born since those monsters on these walls inflicted muru raupatu on Taranaki. Many of my tupuna were Hauhau leaders and fought alongside Tītokowaru. My tupuna stood alongside Tohu and Te Whiti at Parihaka.”

Waititi was equally dramatic in his maiden speech. When speaking of his own tipuna, Waititi said “Before they hung our tipuna Mokomoko, he uttered the words, tangohia te taurau i taku kakī, kia waiata au i taku waiata (take the noose from around my neck so that I may sing my song).” Waititi then pulled his tie over his head as if it were a noose, then yanked it off and replaced it with a taonga, concluding "Therefore I will adorn myself with the treasures of my ancestors and remove the colonial noose so I may sing my song."

Both new politicians were applauded enthusiastically by their su[pporters and Parliament rang with waiata.