MPs sworn in - Harawira squeezes in own oath

By Derek Cheng

Mana leader Hone Harawira.
Mana leader Hone Harawira.

MPs today swore their allegiance to the Queen as they were sworn in at Parliament - though Mana leader Hone Harawira managed to squeeze in his own oath while the Greens called for a more modern oath.

Earlier this year Mr Harawira was ejected from the chamber during his swearing in after he won the Tai Tokerau byelection because he swore allegiance to the Treaty of Waitangi and the people of his electorate, before swearing allegiance to the Queen.

Last night he said he would "pledge allegiance to the things that matter".

This morning, Mr Harawira made his own oath as he moved through the seats, pledging to serve te whare (the House of Representatives), te tiriti (Treaty of Waitangi), te iwi (the Maori people), and te pani me te rawakore (the poor and the dispossessed).

When he reached the middle of the chamber, he read the appropriate oath in te reo.

Not to be outdone, Labour MP Shane Jones welcomed MPs by saying "kia ora whanau" as he moved to the middle of the chamber to swear the oath.

Lockwood Smith has been declared Speaker for a second term.

Meanwhile the Green Party released the results of an online survey of more than 650 people, which found 75 per cent of respondents opposed the current oath to the Queen.

More than 90 per cent would support an alternative oath in which MPs pledged to do their best for Aotearoa/New Zealand.

More than 70 per cent supported including commitments to protect the environment and honour the Treaty of Waitangi.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the parliamentary oath needed to be modernised and unique to New Zealand.

"The current oath is old fashioned and out of step with who we are as a nation. The oath has become increasingly irrelevant both to MPs and to the wider public. It is time for a review and an update.

"We do not serve as MPs out of any sense of loyalty to the British monarch - our loyalty is to New Zealand and our unique place in the world."

Mrs Turei called for a cross-party process to modernise the oath.

"In order to be meaningful, the oath needs to be relevant to both the MP making it and to the New Zealanders they serve. The problem with the current oath is it does neither adequately."

In the past, MPs have varied the oath to incorporate intent to honour the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Speaker of the House has since made the rules more rigid, preventing MPs from using anything other than the approved words.

Earlier this morning Prime Minister John Key asked MPs to respect the oath and pledge allegiance to the Queen.

"The Queen is New Zealand's head of state. That's the constitutional monarchy system that we have and I think every MP therefore is bound by that and should swear their allegiance to the Queen.

"Hone Harawira is notorious for playing games ... I think he does it for grandstanding reasons, not because he genuinely doesn't support the constitutional monarchy.

"Frankly I think he should just get on with it like every other Member of Parliament."

He did not believe the oath needed to be looked at, and taking the oath was a "very special day".

The oath:

I, ..., swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

In te reo Maori:

Ko ahau, ko....... e oati ana ka noho pumau taku pono ki a Kuini Irihapeti te Tuarua me tana kahui whakaheke, e ai ki te ture. Ko te Atua nei hoki taku pou.

- NZ Herald

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