16 Māori Affairs Committee Room
Panorama of the Māori Affairs Committee Room/Māui-Tikitiki-a-Taranga.
Māori Affairs Committee Room
A new Māori Affairs Committee Room, Māui-Tikitiki-a-Taranga, was created as part of the 1990s renovation of Parliament House. The room takes its name from the demigod Māui, who, according to Māori legend, fished up the North Island of New Zealand.
Māui-Tikitiki-a-Taranga is centrally located in Parliament House. The room welcomes Māori with carvings and tukutuku (woven wall panels) that represent the four winds (all tribes), bound together by kōwhaiwhai (painted rafter patterns).
This room was preceded by another Māori Affairs Committee Room, which opened in 1922 and still exists today. This room has exquisite carvings around the doors and on one wall. It also features a panel reproducing the Treaty of Waitangi and portraits of respected Māori members of Parliament.
Māori representation in Parliament
During the 1850s and 1860s, Māori pressed for political representation. Parliament agreed that some representation was needed but feared that Māori votes might outnumber Pākehā (European) votes in some areas. It therefore created four separate Māori seats in 1868.
Important Māori leaders have represented their people in the House. They have included Maui Pomare, James Carroll, Matiu Rata, and (most famously) Apirana Ngata.
For many years, these and other men (they were all men until 1949, when Iriaka Ratana was elected) were lonely voices in a Pākehā-dominated House. Only quite recently have Māori represented electorates outside the Māori seats (apart from Carroll). Since the 1980s, Māori have entered Parliament in greater numbers. The mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) system introduced in 1996 has boosted Māori representation even more.
Māori language in Parliament
Use of the Māori language in Parliament has been controversial over the years.
The first Māori members, in the late 1860s, had little English and preferred to speak Māori. By the 1880s, Parliament had three interpreters. Once, a Māori member objected to an interpreter’s persistently ‘soft’ translations of his strong words and eventually knocked the interpreter over his seat.
Things came to a head in 1913 when Apirana Ngata, who was fluent in English, spoke Māori without an interpreter. The Speaker ruled that Ngata could ask for an interpreter but not speak Māori without one. This largely stopped Māori from being spoken in the House, and the interpreters disappeared.
In the 1930s, Māori members associated with the Ratana movement were allowed to speak Māori if they were brief and translated immediately.
Parliament made Māori an official language in 1985. In 1990, Koro Wetere caused an uproar by replying to questions in Māori and refusing to translate. Since the 1990s, the use of Māori has become more common. Since 1997, an interpreter has been available.
A grid will appear while this movie downloads (about 1-2 mins on a 56k dial-up connection). Once this disappears the movie has downloaded and, with the mouse pointer inside the image, click and drag to explore. These panoramas require QuickTime 5
or later to view. Click on the
to see hotspot links.