(Those who do not consider themselves able in good faith to make an oath before God, for whatever reason, may make an affirmation instead.) Instead, Harawira, as I recall, wanted to swear allegiance to the Treaty and to the people of his Te Tai Tokerau electorate. I also, however, recall a story, and I am not quite sure exactly where this fits in ~ perhaps a little later in the proceedings ~ that he was prepared to take the oath, but wanted to accompany its taking by some sort of explanatory note about what he considered it to mean and what he really wanted to say. Do not be misled into thinking that that would be a satisfactory compromise. The meaning of words depends on their context; different interpretations can be put upon many things. If Harawira were to say ‘I am going through the form of swearing allegiance to Her Majesty, but actually what I really mean and am swearing to is something else’, that would be no different, in essence, from actually swearing a completely different oath. The two situations are the same. As I think I understand the situation, the Speaker has refused to allow even this explanatory note approach, saying that Harawira must take the oath (in the official language of his choice) in the exact words in which it is prescribed, and may say no less and no more.
When the oath ends, so does our nation. Chris warns us that if we do not allow Harawira to enter Parliament and swear an oath as he pleases, then we will be driving him to rebellion, just as Irish nationalists were driven to rebellion after being required to, and refusing to, swear allegiance to George V. We should not worry, nor should we yield. Harawira’s refusal to take the oath now is already every bit as much an act of rebellion as the use of physical force. There is no difference. The confrontation is the same. It must come sooner or later. And it is better that it come now, and in this form. What is more, we can be pretty confident that Harawira will not stick to his guns. A man of principle? Come come. He is too astute to want to lose the opportunities and platforms ~ and salary ~ his status as a Member of Parliament bring him. He will bully and bluster, and take things to the edge, as he does, but in the end he will give in. And really, we should be glad to have him in Parliament, because he makes it very clear what we are fighting against. His agenda is the same as the Maori Party’s; he is just so stupid that he says so out loud, and alarms even the sleepiest of our suicidally sleepy nation, drawing attention to a programme that the Maori Party would rather achieve by stealth. Keep him in Parliament, to remind us of the agenda we are dealing with, in all its naked self-interest, racial discrimination, clownish stupidity and potential for