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House: Te Reo, Tempers and Tantrums

The House this morning has witnessed some rowdy scenes as Mauri Pacific MPs and their former NZ First colleagues opened old wounds and then tipped bitter rhetoric into them to inflame their grievances with each other.

There was little mention of the Bill in question - The Maori Purposes Bill - as Winston Peters, Tau Henare and Tuku Morgan led attacks on each other. One MP was prompted that the best way to resolve the debate was for them to go outside, put on gloves and sort it out like warriors.

The Bill itself is an omnibus Bill making technical amendments to numerous bits of legislation covering areas as wide as a land management through to the governance of trusts funds for Maori veterans.

However, the issue of mandates, who betrayed who and when, along with each parties chances at the general election were the centre pieces of most speeches.

Tempers flared when Tuku Morgan asserted his natural right to speak in Maori without translation. There were a succession of points of order as the Father of the House, Jonathon Hunt, tried to make the point that how could he or the Speaker know if Mr Morgan was sticking to standing orders.

Some MPs tried to accuse Mr Hunt of being insulting, a claim rejected by the Speaker. But there was further confusion when Tuku Morgan was accused of calling Mr Peters a liar in Maori.

Doug Kidd finally managed to calm tempers and curtail tantrums by accepting a request that the Standing Orders Committee have another look at the use of translators.

However the final word came from Philip Taito Fields, who also asked that when the committee looked at the issue, they also consider the status of Pacific Island languages. These are currently not allowed under Standing Orders.

The debate on the Bill continues under Urgency, there will be no Questions of The Day as a result of the urgency motion.

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