You’ve gotta love Hone Harawira’s style. By refusing to use the right words in his oath, Hone exposed the ridiculousness of our representatives swearing allegiance to a Queen on the far side of the world and calling on the aid of a deity that only 50% of us believe in. Lockwood Smith had no choice but to evict Hone because he has to act within the law and the oath is law. It’s the law that needs to change.
As a good materialist, I don’t really get the point in oaths and rote speeches and all the other sentimental, outdated bourgeois symbolism that permeates Parliament. Why does there have to be a Protestant (and xenophobic) prayer at the start of each sitting? Why is there a guy whose sole job appears to be carrying a big golden mace, putting it on a table then, sitting in the corner? Why the oath? Why the whole day at the start of each Parliament where they pretend to select a Speaker (in fact, appointed by the government) and then follow him to listen to a speech (written by the government) from the sovereign’s representative (chosen by the government) about what ‘her’ government will do this term?
I don’t see why Harawira or any MP should have to give any oath, much less the one in the legislation. I’d prefer if they just got on with it. And if they do have to give an oath, couldn’t it just be whatever words (less than 100) to the effect of: they are who they are meant to be, they’ll do the job they’ve been elected for, they won’t break the law in doing it, and whatever other values matter to them personally? Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense?
Update: Actually, it is Lockwood’s fault. It used to be you could say your own oath and then the legal ‘proper’ one. But Lockwood, who also changed practice so that he gets to parade through the main doors of Parliament with the mace-bearer behind him, changed the rule so that only the official oath was acceptable from the outset. I/S explains:
No symbolic dissent is permissible. While cloaked in petty legalism, at its heart this is about cultural supremacy, and in particular the supremacy of Smith’s dead white male monarchist culture over the new New Zealand culture which has been growing here for the last 40 years.
To claim that it is somehow “disrespecting Parliament” to symbolically refuse to take the affirmation in its proper form (and then do it) is an exact reversal of the truth. It is disrespecting Parliament, disrespecting our democracy, to forbid it. And it is disrespecting the people of New Zealand to try and erase our differences and enforce a monolithic culture upon those who represent us.
Of course, even the old practice was unsatisfactory. There’s no logical reason why a properly elected representative of the people of New Zealand shouldn’t be allowed to sit in Parliament on their behalf unless he says a certain set of words to a certain other person.
Update 2: Hone’s attempt to swear his oath. Trevor Mallard sought Parliament’s leave for Hone to be allowed to swear the legal oath, having said his one. National vetoed that.