Story at a glance
- Rawiri Waititi, co-leader of the Māori party, was ejected from New Zealand’s parliament on Wednesday.
- Waititi was denouncing reportedly racist rhetoric from other party leaders and performed a ceremonial haka, which can represent a challenge during conflict.
- The National party has leveled accusations of a “separatist agenda” following the government’s implementation of an independent health service for the Māori.
Māori party co-leader Rawiri Waititi was thrown out of New Zealand’s parliament after denouncing racist rhetoric from the opposition party and performing a ceremonial haka.
The haka, which is a ceremonial dance for the Māori, New Zealand’s Indigenous people, can be used to represent a challenge during conflict.
The New Zealand government recently announced the development of a national health body, as well the creation of the Māori Health Authority, an expansion of an independent health service for the Indigenous people, who have typically received a disparity in health care access and worsened health problems as a result. In response, the National party leveled accusations of a “separatist agenda” and the implementation of “two systems by stealth.”
In parliament on Wednesday, Waititi accused the opposition of inciting racism in its response.
“Over the past two weeks there has been racist propaganda and rhetoric towards tangata whenua [Indigenous people]. That not only is insulting to tangata whenua, but diminishes the mana [dignity] of this House,” Waititi said.
The House speaker, Trevor Mallard, told Waititi to sit down, but Waititi continued to speak before performing a haka, after which Mallard had him thrown out.
“There are various worlds here, and they are colliding,” Labour MP Aupito William Sio said following the interaction. “Because the system here is not an indigenous system … there’s a duty of care in how we approach it – how it’s handled in this House has ripple effects for the wider community.”
Other party leaders lauded Waititi for taking a stand and implored the House to do better.
“This has incited racism with venom towards Māori, because of this type of propaganda and rhetoric,” Waititi told reporters. “ We won’t stand for it any more.”
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