Hone Harawira, the leader of his own newly formed Mana party, was refused entry into New Zealand’s House of Representatives by the House Speaker because the oath given did not conform to the parliamentary rules.
Harawira instead performed an oath in Māori to the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document, named after the Bay of Islands where it was first signed on 6 February 1840.
The Treaty is a British and Māori political agreement founding the nation state and government of New Zealand. The treaty agrees that the Māori people cede the sovereignty of New Zealand to Britain giving the Crown exclusive rights to buy lands the Māori wish to sell. In return for these concessions, the Māori are guaranteed full rights of ownership of their lands, forests, fisheries and other possessions as well as receiving the rights and privileges of British subjects.
Known for rebellious acts as a parliamentarian and his sometimes racial comments against the majority White population in New Zealand, Harawira was often in conflict with the Māori Party. Harawira recently resigned as a Māori Party MP over his view that the government’s Māori MPs were “not defending Māori rights”.
His view is that the Māori Party was weak in giving support to the Labour Party leader Phil Goff, whom he called a “bastard” that “should be lined up against a wall and shot” for passing the Foreshore and Seabed Act. The act was later reformed but still meant traditional Maori shoreland territories became New Zealand Crown property.
It was in this background of Māori rights that Hone Harawira offered up an oath in Māori to the Treaty of Waitangi, resulting in House Speaker Lockwood Smith refusing to swear Hawari into office and having him removed from the House chamber.
Harawira’s supporters cheered and sang a waiata as he was escorted out of the parliament building. Outside on the front steps of the New Zealand parliament, his supporters continued to sing and chant and perform a haka to show support for the Mana Party leader.
Labour MP Trevor Mallard attempted to ask Parliament to allow Harawira to return and read the oath but other MPs objected.