New Zealand lawmaker expelled from parliament for performing haka

Sydney, Australia, May 12 (EFE).- The co-leader of the Maori Party Rawiri Waititi was expelled Wednesday from the New Zealand Parliament for performing a haka, a traditional Maori challenge, in protest against “racist rhetoric and propaganda” of the opposition National Party.

For about two weeks, National Party leader Judith Collins has lashed out at New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for seeking ways for indigenous people to better exercise their rights.

Collins said without evidence that these attempts are part of “a separatist agenda.”

Tension rose Wednesday when Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer asked Ardern if she considers “the continuing attacks on Maori to be racist,” alluding to Collins.

Ngarewa-Packer’s question was blocked by the Speaker of the Lower House, Trevor Mallard, who clarified that the comment was outside the responsibility of the prime minister, which allowed Collins to continue with the debate.

It was then that Waititi stood up to denounce that in recent weeks “racist propaganda” against indigenous people has been heard, and questioned parliament for allowing “the constant bombardment of insults against the tangata whenua (a Maori expression to refer to the traditional owners of the land.)”

The house speaker asked him to sit down, but the Maori legislator performed a ceremonial dance of defiance “haka.”

After being expelled from the session, Waititi said, accompanied by Ngarewa-Packer, that “it is not correct that the Speaker of the House does not have the courage to stop racism in the House and it is not correct that we support it,” according to Radio New Zealand.

It is not the first time Waititi has been expelled from the Chamber. In February he was also made to leave for refusing to wear a tie, arguing it is not part of the formal clothes of the Maori and is a colonial dress.

Some 850,000 of New Zealand’s 5 million people are Maori, although a large part of the population lives in poverty or suffers from financial insecurity and social problems. EFE


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