Speaker says he should have decided to make ties optional last year

By Whatitiri Te Wake

After he was kicked out of the debating chamber in Parliament for not wearing the correct "business attire", Rāwiri Waititi made international headlines.

Last night Speaker Trevor Mallard changed his mind and decided to make ties optional. Waititi called it a “victory” for Māori.

“Ka taea ano a tatou mokopuna a haere ake nei te uru mai ki roto i tenei whare. Me te mea hoki, ka taea e ratou te noho a Māori nei. Kia kauaka rawa a tauiwi e tohutohu me pehea rā te noho a te Māori me whakarākei te Māori i te pākeha. (Our grandchildren will be able to come to this place, they are able to be Māori and not to be instructed by others on how that should be, not for them to dress as Pākeha),” he said

Speaker Trevor Mallard previously said he was not a fan of ties. He admitted today that even after 36 years in Parliament, he still did not know how to tie a tie.

Last year he sought feedback from members about whether ties should be optional. He said that upon reflection he would have handled things quite differently.

'Quite comfortable'

“I got very few emails, more from one party than from others. What I realise now is I got a biased interpretation actually. Most MPs are quite comfortable with ties being optional, which has been my own personal view.”

The response from Labour Māori MPs was varied. Minister Kiritapu Allan today donned her own necktie saying there was no “thinking” behind her decision to wear it but was happy to “rock a different look,” she said

MP Paul Eagle was a bit more flippant. He said “I'm a fan of no ties, and here I am today wearing one, but I'll review that for next week.”

When asked if this was a win for Māori autonomy in the house Minister Kelvin Davis said: “Kahore. Ko taku nei whakaaro he tohu tenei o te mana motuhake. Ko te tangata māna e whakaritea he aha te mea tika māna (No, my thoughts are this (tie) is a sign of Māori autonomy. Everyone has the right to decide what's best for them)" he said.

Whether it's a playground at Parliament or even MPs bringing their children to work, the Speaker says he wants to create a more inclusive workplace for MPs

“It has been my view that we want to make Parliament a place where people are much more comfortable to come to - but to also understand what the kawa is, and what the rules are.”