New Zealand Has an Anti-Tie Revolution

An indigenous Maori representative in parliament is at the center of the incident

Rawiri Waititi MP / facebook.com

Last week, a scandal erupted in the New Zealand parliament: a representative of an indigenous Maori people refused to wear a tie at a meeting, for which he had to leave the hall. After the incident, the mandatory wearing of these accessories at government meetings was canceled.

Speaker Trevor Mallard had twice stopped Maori leader Rawiri Waititi from asking questions, insisting that lawmakers can only speak wearing ties. Waititi arrived at the meeting wearing a taonga, a green stone pendant, and considered such accusations a direct violation of his rights and an attempt to suppress indigenous culture. The incident sparked a debate about colonialism in New Zealand and global outrage: the hashtag #no2tie went viral on Twitter. As a result of the conflict, a hearing was held  at which the majority spoke in favor of the abolition of this detail of the dress code.

In addition, Waititi called the tie a "colonial noose" and added that there is still systemic racism in New Zealand that is a product of colonization: "For us to stand up against subjugation, to stand up again assimilation, to stand up against those who try and make us look, feel, make us think like they want us to think... this was standing up against that." Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern commented on the situation, noting that there are more important problems in the country and it does not matter to her or the citizens whether or not representatives wear ties at meetings.