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Maori Party believes Dual heritage can strengthen nationhood

MEDIA STATEMENT
Tuesday 7th January 2014

Maori Party believes Dual heritage can strengthen nationhood

The Maori Party welcomes a proposed review of parliamentary protocols - with one critical caveat. The Speaker has been reported as saying that "Parliament needs a protocol that is modern and acceptable to a diversified Parliament" and he wants to review it in a way that recognises Maori traditions.

"The Maori Party believes that the protocols, procedures and practices of New Zealand's Parliament must integrate the traditions and histories of our dual cultural heritage," said Co-leader Tariana Turia. "However the Parliament has no place whatsoever in trying to alter the kawa and tikanga of tangata whenua, who are the sole authorities and guardians of their own cultural heritage."

"Parliament should recognise and respect the culture and customs of tangata whenua alongside Westminster parliamentary traditions without compromising the integrity of either," she said.

"Our Parliamentary democracy was established in New Zealand on the basis of the Treaty of Waitangi, whereby the Crown guaranteed to protect the rights of tangata whenua to their taonga tuku iho - their cultural heritage.

"A review of Parliamentary protocols to recognise Maori tradition is an excellent way to 'continue the Constitutional conversation', as was recommended recently by the Constitutional Advisory Panel.

"The kawa of the marae establish rules for engagement that maintain order and reasoned argument during inter-tribal debates. Our traditions of free expression and respect for alternative points of view could well strengthen the rules of Parliamentary debate and decision-making that we inherited from Westminster.

"The New Zealand Army has successfully integrated the two long-standing, powerful, sacred and vibrant military traditions of tangata whenua and Great Britain into a modern New Zealand Army culture, so that every soldier and every citizen can feel that the Army reflects their dual cultural heritage and their identity as New Zealanders.
"We believe that Parliament has a responsibility to take a lead on this, and we look forward to starting a process to engage tangata whenua and the MPs and officers of Parliament, under the leadership of the Speaker, to set the parameters for this constitutional discussion.

"If the experience of the Army is anything to go by, it takes time and commitment to alter proud traditions. Perhaps this project could be a way to celebrate 800 years of Parliamentary democracy since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215," said Mrs Turia.

ENDS


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