Commentary- Shanna Olsen-Reeder, Socialist Aotearoa (Wellington)
Hone Harawira was ordered out of the chamber today less than a minute after entering to be sworn in as the elected member of the house for Te Tai Tokerau.
Speaker Lockwood Smith ordered the Leader of the Mana party to leave after he began his oath not by bearing allegiance to the Queen but instead to the founding document of New Zealand- Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Lockwood took offense to this and Harawira left the house only one minute after entering. Supporters sang from the gallery as he left the house, disregarding Smiths pathetic attempts to call for order. Smith said later that he regretted interrupting the waiata (or in his words why-aata) as it was a “fundamental part of the culture of this country.”
Now hang on a minute- isn’t this the same Lockwood Smith that in 2008 as Senior National MP said that Pacific Islanders needed to be taught how to use a toilet?
How can the same man who claimed that Pacific Islanders don’t know how to wash or use a toilet regard Waiata as special? And why was Hone Harawira’s oath unacceptable when other members have made similar oaths when being sworn into parliament? Green MP Catherine Delahunty questioned the speaker on this point “when I made my affirmation sir, I was asked to repeat it, and I was given that opportunity because I also mentioned Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and I’m not sure why this wasn’t allowed in this case.”
Lockwood Smith then said Ms Delahunty had broken the law and that practise was unacceptable.
In fact changing the oath is not that uncommon. Catherine Delahunty, Kevin Hague and Hone Harawira all pledged their own edited versions in 2009 and all were given the opportunity to repeat the traditional pledge. Harawira had intended to say the traditional oath at the end of his speech exactly as he and several others had in 2009 but had not been allowed to finish it this time.
"There was scope there for the oath of affirmation to proceed, he chose not to let that happen. That's something perhaps he needs to think about, particularly given he has allowed numerous others to affirm in
different ways in the past."
Speaker Lockwood Smiths skewed vision of equality has come into question recently when he threw Labour MP Clare Curran out of the house for breaching the dress code by way of a rugby shirt. In 2010 however National MP Jackie Blue wore an All Whites shirt during the Football world cup. Perhaps the speaker isn’t a rugby fan. Maybe Hone should try wearing an All Whites shirt next time he tries to make his oath. Regardless it is obvious the speaker isn’t a Hone fan, and thus the people of Te Tai Tokerau are still waiting to be represented in Parliament.