Rotorua- based NZ First list MP Fletcher Tabuteau has defended his party's leader after Winston Peters was reprimanded by Parliament's speaker for accusing Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell of trying to "hide behind the Maori language".
Mr Peters made the call after Mr Flavell, Maori Development Minister and Waiariki MP, answered a question on state house sales and homelessness from Labour's Kelvin Davis in te reo Maori in Parliament on Wednesday.
Mr Peters said those listening to Parliament should be able to easily understand what an MP was saying, especially close to an election.
He was ordered to apologise by the Speaker but Mr Peters was later unrepentant, saying Mr Flavell was deliberately speaking te reo Maori so people would not know what he was saying.
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Mr Peters said he was not saying Mr Flavell should answer only in English, but he should explain what he was saying in English as well.
Te reo Maori has been an official language since 1985 and Parliament has translators to translate for both MPs and audiences of Parliament TV. However, Mr Peters argued that left out broadcasts on radio.
Mr Flavell later hit out at Mr Peters for "anti-Maori rhetoric" following on from his call to abolish the Maori seats.
"Every chance he gets he puts the boot in. To accuse me of hiding behind my native tongue harks back to an age when Maori were actively discouraged from speaking te reo.
"I thought we were living in the 21st century - not the 19th century," Mr Flavell said.
Mr Tabuteau told the Rotorua Daily Post Mr Peters had been instrumental in the past in getting funding for kohanga reo and the national kapa haka competition.
"It was a quip at our [parliamentary] process. These are important matters for discussion and there is no translation on radio or television, or even in the [press] gallery."