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Te Pāti Māori Members Deviate from Traditional Oath-Taking Protocol at New Zealand Parliament

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Mazhar Abbas
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Te Pāti Māori Members Deviate from Traditional Oath-Taking Protocol at New Zealand Parliament

In an unprecedented move at the New Zealand Parliament's swearing-in ceremony, members of Te Pāti Māori deviated from traditional protocol during their oath-taking. Instead of the typical te reo affirmation, they chose to stand and deliver a whaikorero, swearing allegiance to 'mokopuna' (descendants) and committing to uphold the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

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Unconventional Oath-Taking

The usual practice of affirming allegiance to King Charles III was replaced by the term 'Kingi harehare.' 'Harehare,' known to carry various meanings, including some derogatory ones, was clarified by co-leader Rawiri Waititi as an alternate name for Charles in coastal regions. This action forms part of a broader protest against the colonial nature of the ceremony, a call to include Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the swearing-in protocol.

Criticism and Defense

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However, the move drew criticism from New Zealand First MP Shane Jones, who accused Te Pāti Māori of cultural bullying and dismissed their claim as the authentic voice for Māori New Zealanders, citing their low voter percentage. In response, Waititi defended the party's intent to reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi in their oath and commitment to future generations.

Protest and Controversy

Te Pāti Māori also supported protest action earlier that day, which included controversial imagery of pistols with flags, symbolizing the oppression of Māori people. This imagery was criticized by Jones as inappropriate for parliamentarians. The protests were part of the party's opposition to the new government's policies, perceived as racist, and called for a more inclusive interpretation of the country's founding document in legislation.

In summary, the oath-taking ceremony at the New Zealand Parliament marked a significant deviation from traditional norms by Te Pāti Māori members. Despite the controversy and criticism it garnered, the party stood firm on its commitment to uphold the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and defend the rights of the Māori people.

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