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Outrage at 'segregated nature' of Powhiri

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Sasha Borissenko

While Youth MPs were sworn into parliament today, Labour’s Annette King showed outrage over a gender segregated Powhiri.

One hundred and twenty one Youth MPs participated in a traditional Maori Powhiri whereby males spoke from various iwis and were placed in front of females who completed the welcoming call, otherwise known as Karanga.

Labour MP Annette King said she was not comfortable with the "segregated nature" of the welcoming.

"In no way would this have happened during Helen Clark’s day," she said.

Ms King said she would strive for gender equality for future Powhiri’s so that they could "accurately reflect" the House of Representatives.

"A change is long overdue, in my opinion," she said.

"It was wrong. Some of my colleagues will disagree with me on this one."

New Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said the seating was not really an issue because it was simply the result of Maori protocol.

"Everyone has a part to play," he said.

In its simplest form, men sit in front so they can shelter women from any negative influences, whether it be physical, spiritual or otherwise, he said.

At no point did that effectively mean women were in need of protection, he said.

There were some things women do that men do not - Karanga and giving birth for example, he said.

The seating and speaking rules varied from iwi to iwi, he said.

"These particular seating protocols are protected in this area."

Te Ati Awa iwi performed the Powhiri and hail from the Taranaki and Wellington regions.

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