Alf has just caught up with news that Parliament’s relationship with Te Atiawa could be changed.
For the better?
It depends on your world view, probably.
The news is that a bloke called Morrie Love is keen on maintaining the Maori traditional muzzle on women when it comes to speaking rights – even if they happen to be members of Parliament. It’s a position Alf is strongly inclined to support, because women are apt to talk a lot of old flannel.
It’s all related to powhiri at Parliament (typically a tedious procedure which Alf prefers to avoid but very important when it comes to maintaining the status of our indigenous people as – you know – “special”).
A leader of Wellington iwi Te Atiawa says the tribe would reconsider its relationship with Parliament if it drastically changed protocol to allow women to speak in powhiri.
A review of Parliamentary protocol is in progress after some female MPs felt the current kawa, which belongs to local iwi Te Atiawa, belittled their status.
The head of Labour’s Maori Caucus, Nanaia Mahuta, has got herself involved in this brouhaha.
She says the review is about recognising women as equals in the House, which could mean giving them an opportunity to speak in powhiri, or the less formal welcome, the whakatau.
But we can’t have any of this treating people as equals nonsense. It could lead to all sorts of troublesome challenges to the way things are done, such as challenging the special status of our indigenous people. Questions are bound to be raised, too, about this co-governance epidemic whereby Maori persons are given an important role in deciding what is good for all of us without actually having to get elected.
Wellington Tenths Trust chair Morrie Love accordingly has said he is not keen on any drastic changes to give women speaking rights.
He said if that were to happen, the iwi should review its role in Parliament.
Mr Love said if changes to protocol were happening generally in Maoridom, then the iwi would look at it but the changes were not for Parliament to lead.
Damned right. Parliament and its representatives need reminding of where they sit.
Letting elected Maori politicians decide what protocols for powhiri should be adopted in Parliament would be setting a very dangerous precedent, giving rise to the dangerous notion that an elected Maori is more important in our House of Representatives than a non-elected one.
Next bloody thing, someone would be wondering why indigenous people are “special”.
Morrie and his mates would be up Shit Creek without a paddle if that were to happen.
Mind you, if our female politicians want to shake off the powerful influence of the local iwi they might press for moving Parliament up into Ngati Porou territory.
The East Coast could do with the economic boost and Ngati Porou aren’t so fussed about women having speaking rights as other iwi.