Deputy Speaker Anne Tolley feels awful that she upset Youth MP Lily Dorrance and has apologised to her, to Speaker Trevor Mallard, and to former Speaker David Carter.
During a general debate in the House yesterday, Tolley interrupted Dorrance, who is the Youth MP for National MP David Carter, and asked her to speak without reading from her notes.
Dorrance was giving an impassioned speech about mental health, and had spoken about losing a friend to suicide.
"When she interrupted me it was awful," Dorrance told the Herald last night.
"As soon as I sat down I burst into tears and had to leave … It was just humiliating."
The capital has this week hosted the Youth Parliament, which every three years brings together teenagers from around the country to try their hand at being MPs, including by speaking in the House in front of cameras.
Tolley, a National MP and former minister, said in a statement last night that she was trying to get Dorrance to speak from her notes rather than read from them.
"I'm so sorry if I upset anyone and certainly apologised to a couple of people."
This morning she declined to be interviewed, but said she had apologised to Dorrance and to Speaker Trevor Mallard.
She also apologised to David Carter, who has chaired several Youth Parliaments when he was Speaker.
Carter also spoke to Dorrance this morning, and said that she was feeling better and had moved on.
"It was an unfortunate incident. It certainly threw her off her stride when she was told she couldn't read her speech. She just froze. Everybody else had been reading their speeches."
MPs in the House are often told not to read speeches, but Carter said it was "pretty tough" to ask the same of Youth MPs.
"These young adults can be quite nervous. I would have been more lenient. Having said that, Anne was the presiding officer at the time, and it was the call she made."
He said that Tolley was "very apologetic" in their conversation.
Dorrance, 17, was giving a speech during the general debate about mental health.
"It was only a few months ago that I lost a friend, class mate, to suicide," she told the House.
She praised the $1.9 billion dedicated to the sector in Budget 2019, but said it didn't go far enough.
"What young people really need is open communication, education and accessible mental health and wellbeing services. This requires a system where mental health education, from qualified experts, is part of the school curriculum right through Year 13."
Tolley then interrupted her: "Put your notes away. Tell us what you think we need."
Another Youth MP raised a point of order, prompting Tolley to say: "I'm just trying to, in the last minute she has, to get from her, rather than reading a speech, her views. So I've already ruled. I'm not going to re-debate it."
When the Youth MP asked for leniency, Tolley told her: "You may sit down."
The interaction prompted angry responses from other Youth MPs.
One of them, Ethan Griffiths, tweeted his reaction.
"The behaviour of Anne Tolley in the House right now is utterly disgusting. [Interrupting] a young girl talking about her friend's suicide while reading from a speech, demanding her to talk without notes. Shutting down points of order, and ignoring the concerns of YMPs. Awful."
Mallard said he did not comment on presiding officers.
Where to get help:
• Lifeline : 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline : 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline : 0800 376 633
• Kidsline : 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup : 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
• Depression helpline : 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth : (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.