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Parliament’s tie issue

Written By: - Date published: 7:29 am, February 10th, 2021 - 90 comments
Categories: maori party, Parliament, twitter - Tags:

This is a weird issue for the Maori Party to get ready to die in a ditch about.

Having one of your two MPs being silenced in the people’s chamber for not wearing a decorative strip of material around your neck when all other males are seems at first to be pretty retrograde.

By all means make your stand and fight your battles but save them up for the big issues.

Child poverty, inadequate housing, environmental devastation, treaty breaches, fill your boots.  The Maori electorate has a particularly focussed and painful experience of these issues and will cheer you every time you make a stand.

But neck ties?  You are just filling bandwidth and the twitterverse with irrelevant chatter.

Having said this Parliament does need to change the rules.

As a lawyer I have worn a tie every time I have gone into court during the last 36 years.  Does it help me do my job? No.

And in the People’s house of representatives this artificial historic requirement is so arbitrary.

But suit with tie, without tie, good old westie black shirt with jeans and maybe a dress jacket for style, these should all be sufficient.

The People’s house should mark its members by the quality of their work and the quality of their representation.

And if they do not live up to expectations then there is the right of the electorate to vote them out at the next election.

I hate to agree with Claire Robinson.  Her comments are always fashioned to be critical of Labour and supportive of National.  She deserves her Spin Doctor moniker.

But on this issue I agree with her.  The requirement for male MPs to wear a tie is an anachronistic distraction.

Let us just require our MPs to turn up to work wearing something tidy and presentable.

And hope that they concentrate on dealing with issues such as child poverty, inadequate housing, environmental devastation and treaty breaches.

90 comments on “Parliament’s tie issue ”

  1. lprent 1

    I turn up for work in everything from tee shirts that say "Grey Lynn" to ones that say "Programmer looking for work, willing to do windows". From jeans to shorts. After going to work in a car, to sweating in through the door after biking to work on a humid day. Running shoes or sandals. They're usually tidy if you have blurry. Always clean until after lunch.

    But my job is mostly inherently back end and, apart from the odd zoom call, usually far away from the customer. If customers see me, it is because I'm fixing some horrible screw-up that has been defeating others.

    Last time I wore a tie was probably a wedding back in the 1980s. My partner certainly commented on how bloody old and out of date they looked after she spring cleaned my clothes and threw them out a decade ago.

    So I agree with Rawiri Waititi at a personal level. In fact the requirement to wear such a stupid monstrosity was one of the things that I considered decades ago when I decided that pursuing an interest in politics was way less interesting than an obsession with programming.

    On the other hand, it is a kind of uniform. I've worn those in the army. I've worn them been doing management jobs. When I have been doing technical sales. When I have been a barman. And even when doing the odd appearance at social occasions like weddings.

    They're functionally designed to allow you to blend in. Like a gillie suit for a sniper.

    I argue against them loudly when they're silly. But I won't stop working in a principle over them.

    Only a narcissistic dickhead wanting to stand out would die in a ditch to change that. I guess that defines Rawiri Waititi.

    Plus he is probably enabling the dinosaur culture war warriors to cling to their authority to hold on to a non-functional dress standard for more decades.

  2. kejo 2

    And I would say that 0.00005% of Maori find a tie relevant and class this as an appropriate and colourful "up yours" towards a Speaker of the House with an 1840,s sense of reality. Regards, Keith

  3. Treetop 3

    Being silenced in the people's chamber for not wearing a tie is going to far.

    Mallard is acting like a school principal using a school dress code against someone.

    The tie rule is the issue and Rawari Waititi is challenging it.

    • Tricledrown 3.1

      Mallard wearing an Americas cup logo shouldn't be allowed.

      Then don't we have equal rights women should have to wear ties as well.

      • Treetop 3.1.1

        What a silly rule wearing a tie is. There is no rule saying you need to wear make up or dye your hair if it is going grey or regrowth coming through. The justice department had a change in barristers wearing wigs some years back.

  4. Siobhan 4

    As someone of Scottish heritage…I consider cultural battles over dress are, infact, important… however the fact that the Māori Party co-leaders did not submit on the business attire dress code seriously weakens their position.

    The argument not to submit…"If two of us in the Māori Party were to put in a submission to say we didn't agree with ties, that would get lost amongst the very system that keeps our people in second place: democracy."….makes me wonder why the Maori Party have even accepted a seat within Parliament where everything is subjected to the always flawed rules of Democracy.

    Again…I am not saying the Maori Party leaders are wrong on either issue, in fact I agree with them generally…..There are many powerful and valid reasons to fight your cause by remaining outside of the power structures (something they should have learned after their partnership with National). But trying to be …one foot in..one foot out…with the plodding rules and systems of Parliament, and parliamentary change/evolution, just doesn't work.

    • weka 4.1

      that quote makes more sense if you read the whole thing.

      "As the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, we're still having to go to the white man to make a submission about how we should dress in a place that has been consented by my ancestors through Te Tiriti o Waitangi," Waititi said.

      "If two of us in the Māori Party were to put in a submission to say we didn't agree with ties, that would get lost amongst the very system that keeps our people in second place: democracy.

      "When it suits everybody democracy works, but when it doesn't suit everybody, you know, we get overpowered by the majority.

      https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018782850/my-taonga-is-my-tie-maori-party-co-leader-rawiri-waititi

      Maybe there is an issue of mana there. That it is diminished in multiple ways.

      He may also be pointing to participatory democracy rather than majority rules. Choosing to not engage in certain aspects of the flawed model can be a choice of empowerment. Mallard's defence that he asked for submissions seems weak to me, because he didn't explain how that process was done. Was it a vote? Or was he taking advice and making a decision? Were TMP's voices likely to be heard? I'm guessing probably not.

      I'm also suspicious of the idea that most people said keep the ties, it suggests the process was flawed and lots of people didn't submit. Or maybe it was how the question was asked. Who knows.

  5. Roy Cartland 5

    I think it's a stupid thing for the speaker to [make someone] die in a ditch over. Did someone complain? Make it an issue then, and turn it to the idiotic complainer, rather than make an ass of himself, and Waititi.

    • David 5.1

      The Speaker has shown a poor sense of judgement on this and more significant issues recently. His credibility in the role is at a very low ebb.

      • Peter 5.1.1

        "The Speaker has shown a poor sense of judgement on this…"

        He went with what the majority wanted after consultation.

        Would you rather he just go within his own personal opinion on everything, his gut feeling? And would you then be addressing his dictator attitude?

        • DukeEll 5.1.1.1

          Must suck to be a cultural minority…. but whatever, as long as the majority can perform their tyranny

          • mac1 5.1.1.1.1

            The majority thing is how Parliament, and democracy, works with hopefully due regard to the rights of the minority.

            The Speaker is bound by such rules, even though his personal preference would be to dump ties.

            • DukeEll 5.1.1.1.1.1

              In the institution that has specific Maori seats to specifically address the issue that Maori were and are under-represented by Maori in said institution, Maori aren't allowed to dress as Maori, only as Pakeha, because they are a minority?

              Good to know.

              That majority wouldn't be partly comprised of Labour MP's disgruntled that the Maori party took Waiariki from them would it?

              • mac1

                I'm not sure that I know how Maori should be dressed 'in business attire" as the Speaker ruled yesterday.

                I do know that hei tiki are worn with ties.

                But to suggest that MPs would be so churlish as to stymie a man's chosen snazzy garb because he won a seat from one of their own?

                BTW, though your point about the need for retention of Māori seats is valid, yesterday in the House it was pointed out that Māori, while comprising 14% of the population (my understanding is 17%), are represented by a larger % in the House.

                What's happening out in the District Councils is a different matter. One MP argued she had never seen a Māori councillor in her area in 29 years. Waititi's colleague argued convincingly enough in that debate. And her tie looked quite sharp……

                • DukeEll

                  But as long as the majority approve of the individual items that define business attire, you agree? diversity until otherwise allowed I guess.

                  <i> But to suggest that MPs would be so churlish as to stymie a man's chosen snazzy garb because he won a seat from one of their own? </i>

                  Well, The majority in parliament is Labour and the Greens, so there must be at least some in either of those parties responsible.

                  • mac1

                    They will sort it out. What I think is immaterial. What I was challenging was that we all know how MPs should be dressed, or that we can impute childish and vengeful motives to parliamentarians, without challenge.

                    "You beat me in one of our seats so you have to wear a tie nyah nyah na na nyah!” Really?

                    Another point- if there are rules, someone has to judge whether they are followed- judge, umpire, schoolteacher, parent, whoever. And be criticised for doing so, as always there will be those who disagree with the rules. In the House, they’re called Speaker, responsible to the House and enforcing its members’ rules.

        • Treetop 5.1.1.2

          It does not make it right just because the majority wanted ties to be worn. An exemption could be granted.

        • Louis 5.1.1.3

          It is odd that the Maori party, that wanted the tie rule gone, didnt bother to submit to the review.

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    Meh – his tiki thing fills the tie role adequately – it's his hat I'd throw him out for: it's not from any NZ culture. Mind, his 2ic's hat is great – it's the stuff that fills it that struggles.

    • Roy Cartland 6.2

      With you there re hat.

    • McFlock 6.3

      It's definitely a blatant "out" for Mallard to say "same diff, ties and tiki show equal respect for the House".

    • woodart 6.4

      completley agree, raving on about having to wear an item of european clothing ,while wearing an item of american clothing shows huge amounts of hypocrisy, and very little consistency.

    • georgecom 6.5

      I thought similar Stuart Munro. Maybe a tiki is appropriate under Tikanga Maori as a replacement for a tie. If that is so I am fairly relaxed about Waititi wearing that in substitute for a neck tie or bow tie. The 'colonial noose' as he calls it.

      How about the 'pax americana crown' he wears however, the symbol of post war american economic imperialism. Latin America and to a lesser extent the Middle East and for a period South East Asia being a play thing for US economic imperialism.

  7. Sabine 7

    Yeah, cause being silenced by a white fellow for not wearing what is essentially a white men fashion statement/ adornment must be the fault of the not white guys.

  8. Ad 8

    At least Winston Peters knew how to dress. It starts with a double-breasted and finely tailored dark suit.

  9. Robert Guyton 9

    So many people talking about Rawiri Waititi and Te Pati Maori!

    He pai tena!

  10. Sacha 10

    It is a useful symbolic issue about our colonial institutions.

  11. Incognito 11

    The tie should be thrown on the bonfire of regulations together with all other rules that are deemed silly or unnecessary by at least one MP. Did Simon Bridges walk in solidarity with his brother when he got ejected from Parliament?

  12. Barfly 12

    Heh – Rawiri Waititi in my opinion is firmly following the principle of "all publicity is good publicity" – nothing more.

  13. Foreign waka 13

    Storm in a tea cup. There are more pressing issues that need attention.

  14. Robert Guyton 14

    The Maori wards issue is far more interesting.

  15. Sanctuary 15

    Homer noted in the Odyssey that Ulysses tidying up his appearance gave him "…the air of the gods who dwell in the wide heaven." while Erasmus in 1508 tells us “vestis virum facit (clothes make the man).” Mark Twain in "The Czar’s Soliloquy" says “[One] realizes that without his clothes a man would be nothing at all; that the clothes do not merely make the man, the clothes are the man; that without them he is a cipher, a vacancy, a nobody, a nothing… There is no power without clothes.” And any number of sumptary laws also tell us of the importance of appearance.

    And of course this advice might offer a clue to any Instagram influencer annoyed as to why it might be that no one takes her pronouncements seriously when given in her postage stamp bikini.

    I think then that we can dispense with the ridiculous idea that clothes are unimportant, especially when dealing with a body such as parliament that derives some of dignity (from which some part of it's authority is attained) from the example of it's sartorial display to those it presumes to rule.

    Following the rules and wearing a tie is part of the conventional sumptary display voters clearly expect from their MPs. This is only a problem if you want to make it one, or perhaps you wish to signal you don't take your $180,000PA taxpayer funded job seriously. The Maori party so far it all it's behaviour has indicated it isn't interested in being serious about it's job or indeed in taking parliament as the legislative body that sets our laws and governs the land seriously. I get it is playing to it's perceived support base – a gallery of resentful and arrogant Maori nationalists keen for the trappings of executive power but not particularly interested in democratic responsibility – but I have to observe that a party that spent from 2008-2017 propping up the government of the bespoke be-suited (and presumably be-decked with a splendid array of couture attacher) settler capitalist class that made every metric of Maori life worse (except for new the Iwi elites) makes it faux outrage a ridiculously thin gruel to me, at least.

    My advice to the Moari party therefore is put the fucking tie on and do your fucking jobs for poor and badly housed Maori and stop behaving like unserious larrikans. Voters have no interest in your stupid parliamentary parlour games. Or if you are not interested in being serious about being in parliament, piss off and get someone who is.

  16. Anne 16

    To put a few commenters straight: Mallard consulted with the parliamentarians about the issue. A significant majority wanted the tie rule to continue. That [presumably] means all the Nat. and ACT MPs and maybe a few from Labour.

    Mallard himself is on record in the past few days noting that he personally supported the dropping of the tie rule, but since the majority of parliamentarian wish it to continue he has no choice but to uphold the rule.

    Get your facts right folks and blame the parliamentarians who insisted on the tie rule remaining – not the Speaker.

    • Red Blooded One 16.1

      yes

    • KJT 16.2

      Yep. It seems Mallard has acted perfectly correctly in this instance. Puzzling why the Māori party didn't object when it was decided. They could have persuaded MP's that ties could be substituted with Taonga, or Bolo's.

      This is one of many issues that shows the value of “Consensus” decision making.

    • Enough is Enough 16.4

      Maybe a few from Labour?

      Considering the massive majority they hold in Parliament, along with the Greens, then certainly Labour MPs wanted the tie to stay.

      That's how democracy works.

      Suck it up and lets get on with fixing some real issues.

      • Anne 16.4.1

        Suck it up and lets get on with fixing some real issues.

        Agreed. I couldn't care less if they wear ties or not. Provided they show respect for the chamber and appear clean, tidy and reasonably soberly attired let them wear what they like.

        I was just correcting a few people here, who seemed to think it was Mallard throwing his weight around. He was following an apparent majority decision by MPs to keep the tie tradition in place.

    • Gabby 16.6

      What a disappointing, shallow bunch the majority of parliamentarians are.

  17. KJT 17

    Time we got rid of elitist colonial relics such as ties anyway.

    This is as rediculous as schools dictating pupils haircuts.

    As I get older I have less and less regard for rules and conventions that have nothing to do with achieving the task on hand. Even less for ones that came from a much cooler climate than ours.

    At one stage ties, and suits. were the male management uniform in the job I was doing at the time.

    After a bit I stopped wearing one, and bought comfortable trousers and a polo shirt. Just dressed neatly and tidily.

    You know what. Nobody noticed for a while, then they started turning up themselves in what is usually called, "smart casual".

    The sky did not fall in!

    Noting that anyonene who has tried to rip me off or climb over me on corporate ladder, while giving me a kick on the way up, has worn a suit and tie.

    Never had anything but help from those in working clothes, with tattoos and T shirts, or even Bikie leathers.

  18. Drowsy M. Kram 18

    Mallard’s treatment of a duly elected NZ parliamentarian is the bad look, imho.

    Speaker to consider dropping ties from Parliament's dress code

    Parliament dress code review: Wellington fashion icon on ties and workplace attire [27 Nov 2020]

    "I welcome this discussion for our New Zealand Government and I hope that they can come to a solution that suits the Government of today.

    "What we don't want to do is create limitations and blocks for people, and to be more comfortable and open."

    The phallic necktie is an outdated symbol of white male rule in New Zealand's parliament

    Parliament Dress Code Changed For First Time Since 1963

    Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka has made a historic ruling regarding how Senators are allowed to dress in the house.

    During a session on Tuesday, November 10 [2020], Speaker Lusaka stated that legislators would now be allowed to access Parliament's debate chambers and attend house business in traditional African attire.

    I think it's only fair that the same rules apply to someone who’s in the chamber to someone remotely. Hence why I am very worried about Michael Fabricant’s pink shorts.

    This MP Was Shamed For Wearing A (Very Nice) Dress In Parliament
    Rempel, for one, says she won’t let the trolls win. She plans to wear the dress again and again. “I bought in two more colours,” she says.

    South Korea's National Assembly plans to enforce dress code

    Ryu's party later said she was the victim of sexism and that her outfit was an act of defiance against a conservative political culture.

    "The authority of the National Assembly is not built upon those suits," Ryu had said.

    On Wednesday, the National Assembly research service said it is reviewing dress codes that apply to parliaments in Britain, France, Germany and Japan and the U.S. Congress.

  19. Peter 19

    Waititi's comments could be used by anyone arguing against school uniforms.

    The comments by many about 'cultural relics' and being imprisoned by the colonial past? In New Zealand that's why traditional old English public school type uniforms are held in high regard. It's why the expensive private schools here seem to try top replicate their old English cousins. It's tradition, it's a sign of class.

    Last week in the hot weather a group of high school girls crossed the road on a pedestrian crossing in front of me. Girls from the kura, in the hot weather, in Northland, wearing black stockings. It struck me as crazy but someone thinks it's a great idea and I guess they all go along with it.

  20. Incognito 20

    IMHO, a much more interesting debate would be about what we can rightfully expect from our Parliamentarians in terms of standards of behaviour and (moral) conduct. Not just in the House, but in public (e.g. in the media), on-line (e.g. social media), even in private, and when they’re wearing their many different ‘hats’. To turn this into Tiegate seems another futile beat-up.

  21. McFlock 21

    Ties, like most uniform elements, are arbitrary relics.

    I never wear one these days. But I used to.

    When I was doing venue security, I worked two type of job: pubs where they gave you a "crew" or "security"-labelled tshirt as an identifer, and formal events. For the latter I wore a tie.

    I found that each assisted me in adopting the appropriate character for the role I was about to play. Mannerisms changed, even verbal reactions. "Mate" became "sir", "what the hell" became "good god" (that ws a heck of a sight. Normally we caught the courting couples before they got anywhere near that far).

    Parliament should be a better place than it is. Members should dress accordingly. But the actual effort is what is important, not the arbitrary symbols used to express it.

    • Sacha 21.1

      Normally we caught the courting couples before they got anywhere near that far

      Big Day Out? 🙂

      • McFlock 21.1.1

        Formal function lol. Pretty usual for folks to try to sneak off down dark corridors into "unused" (read "less used") parts of the function centre. Dunno about now, but in those days the building was sectioned off using particle board partitions.

        The funniest one was a couple we didn't catch at the time, but someone was wearing a feather boa. A thin trail of feathers past a partition and down the hall, then left into the ladies… and an explosion of feathers around the sink bench lol. CSI: School Formals lol

  22. AB 22

    More importantly – and this is the great issue of our age – are ties 'speech' ? (There are joke ties that actually play recorded words, but I don't mean them)

    • mac1 22.1

      Ties can be loud, they can say something about the wearer, or the giver, and in Parliament's setting should be seen and not heard…..

  23. Reality 23

    Well if a professional appearance is outdated and anything goes, perhaps the All Blacks could toss on any random jersey/shorts they had worn for practicing in. Air crew could grab anything they first laid eyes on in their wardrobe. The military could dispense with their smart uniforms and buy cheap track pants/sweat shirts in bulk from the Warehouse, as could the Police.

    I recall a low decile sports team a few years ago being so pleased they had finally got blazers to wear to sports fixtures, just the same as all the other school teams.

    Some respect for tradition is surely necessary even in today's more relaxed environment.

  24. bwaghorn 24

    So hes got a no doubt expensive object that actually means something to him tied!!! around his neck but it's not a tie,

    Ok then🙄🙄

    Can some point to a standing order that clearly defines what makes the grade

  25. Jilly Bee 25

    Is there any reason why the Speaker can't ask for a vote from the floor – the Ayes and Nos would be then available for us all to see and, just perhaps it would put an end to the matter. There is probably some rule or standing order which would prohibit such a vote.

  26. Macro 26

    As a lawyer I have worn a tie every time I have gone into court during the last 36 years. Does it help me do my job? No.

    This one is for you Micky laugh

    I notice the cats not wearing a tie either!

  27. Andre 27

    Bring back the powdered wigs!

  28. Roy Cartland 28

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/436143/rawiri-waititi-allowed-to-speak-in-parliament-without-neck-tie

    Mallard came to his senses. Now let's see if the Standing Orders Committee will too.

    • Louis 28.1

      "Mallard said he had a discussion with co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and they agreed a truce until the committee had met.

      "I did have an undertaking that he wouldn't be speaking, that he'd only be present, but we're going to deal with these matters at 7.15pm"

      Waititi asked a question therefore didn't keep his word.

    • Louis 28.2

      "To put a few commenters straight: Mallard consulted with the parliamentarians about the issue. A significant majority wanted the tie rule to continue"

      See Anne's full post at 16.

  29. Treetop 29

    Ties are unhealthy, they can reduce blood flow to the brain and play a part in some eye disorders. That might be the reason for some of the behaviour in parliament, I cannot recall that, I did not see that… In hospitals they can transmit infection.

    No doubt there is a lot more to add about how unhealthy ties are.

  30. pdm 30

    I can live with a no tie rule as long as proper dress shirts are worn with ties required for the Opening of Parliament etc.

    The hat is a different issue – it is just plain bad manners for any man to wear a hat indoors. Even military people remove their hats when inside a building.

    • Cinny 30.1

      YES, a man should always remove his hat in such surroundings as a sign of respect.

      Re the tie, my own personal opinion, love a man in a suit in tie. But no tie in parliament isn't a big deal for me.

  31. What about the elephant in the room ? The American cowboy hat , perhaps the ultimate internationally recognised symbol of Honky culture ……..

  32. Muttonbird 32

    Bizarre.

    The AM Show tie debate: MP wearing tie hails end of rule, while MP without tie says keep them compulsory

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/02/the-am-show-tie-debate-mp-wearing-tie-hails-end-of-rule-while-mp-without-tie-says-keep-them-compulsory.html

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