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Turner slams National MP's disrespect

Media statement
For immediate release
Monday, 8 May 2006

Turner slams National MP's disrespect

United Future's deputy leader, Judy Turner MP, is describing a walkout by two National MP's from a powhiri as disrespectful grandstanding.

National's Judith Collins and Anne Tolley walked out of the welcome to a Parliamentary select committee at a youth justice facility last Friday

The two women said they did not agree with Maori protocol that relegated women to the back row.

Mrs Turner, who was present at the powhiri, said "Their actions set a very bad example to the young people at the facility who are participating in programmes designed to improve their respect for others."

The National MP's claim they were abused by a kaumatua in his speech but Mrs Turner said, "This was the point made by the kaumatua in his short rebuke to the two MP's at the end of his speech.

"His rebuke was not abusive and surely MP's would know better than most, that if you can't take it then don't dish it up. Their actions were provocative, and just like the debating chamber, a response was given.

"If pakeha women have a role to play in addressing gender issues within Maori protocol, then it is to support Maori women on the matters they feel ought to be raised, not to launch out on some sort of poorly-thought out crusade of their own.

"It was an ironic twist that those of us left to apologise found that the Maori women present were the most hurt and upset at their actions.

"Finally they added insult to injury by huffing off, refusing to greet individually those who had gathered to welcome us with the traditional hongi.

"In leaving they failed to understand that exchanges on the marae can be very direct, but having made your point (and in this case, both sides had), the norm is for everyone gathered to move on to the purpose of the visit.

"I wonder if the unintended consequence of this unfortunate incident will be that local schools and community organisations in the electorates represented by Ms Collins and Ms Tolley will shy away from inviting their local member if they plan to include a powhiri as part of the occasion for fear that they will behave offensively," said Mrs Turner.


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