Māori Party co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi say they walked out of the House after being denied the right for both to speak as co-leaders in the Address in Reply debate in which opposition leaders reply to the government's three-year plan as announced by the Governor-General.
“We were shocked and deeply disturbed to learn that we would not have an opportunity, as all other party leaders had, to speak in the Address In Reply debate in response to the Prime Minister’s agenda – the Speaker didn’t even allow our point of order to be heard," Waititi says.
Māori people clearly expressed a view that their liberated, unapologetic voice should be heard, not suppressed, he says.
"These rulings are offensive to us because they represent oppression of the tangata whenua voice. No other party can give an unapologetic Māori response to the Prime Minister’s agenda."
Ngarewa-Packer says, “This is yet another example of the Māori voice being silenced and ignored, something our people know all too well. We have walked out of the House to enable us to talk directly to our people about our vision and kaupapa as Te Pāti Māori."
She says despite following the rules of the House and seeking a suspension to Standing Orders, the co-leaders were still denied the ability to speak in the first parliamentary debate.
“It’s unacceptable that we are being prevented from responding to the Prime Minister’s agenda for the next three years – we are the only tangata whenua party in this place and our voice must be heard on the policies that affect us,” Ngarewa-Packer says.