Incoming Speaker Rurawhe wants his office to be bilingual

Source: 1News

Incoming Speaker Adrian Rurawhe says he wants his office to be bilingual, and that his experiences chairing iwi hui will help him referee Parliament's debates.

While formalities still need to be completed, the MP for Te Tai Hauāuru is likely to be Trevor Mallard's replacement, after the latter announced he was moving on from mid-August.

Rurawhe told Breakfast that he would be bringing his perspective to the role of Speaker, who is charged with upholding the rules in the debating chamber.

In his maiden speech in 2014, Rurawhe said: "When I took the Oath of Allegiance, I was pleased to place one hand on the Bible and in my other hand to hold a copy of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. I did this as an expression of my commitment to upholding my faith and Te Tiriti o Waitangi during my time here in Parliament, ture wairua, ture tangata."

Eight years on, those things were still important to him.

"It is definitely my intention that the Office of the Speaker will be a bilingual office," Rurawhe said.

His faith and the Rātana Church also continued to play a "significant part" in his life. Rurawhe is the grandson of former MPs Matiu and Iriaka Rātana and the great-grandson of the church's founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Rātana.

After serving as the chair of his iwi Ngāti Apa for 10 years and hosing countless hui, Rurawhe said: "I'd like to bring some of those strategies… I could apply inside the chamber."

"Having that attitude of seeing things through different eyes is a good thing. It's an expression of the diversity that Aotearoa New Zealand actually is."

He also came with experience - he had been Deputy Speaker since 2020.

But heading into the role of Speaker can be lonely at times because you had to be impartial, he said.

"You have to do that in a way that is not biased in any way and you have to maintain a level of neutrality despite the fact you're in a political party as well.

"So, that means I will no longer go to caucus, I won't be part of those sorts of decisions made at a political level, I won't go to party meetings. So, the role of Speaker becomes a paramount function that I will have in my day-to-day work."

Rurawhe was also contemplating becoming a list MP, meaning the race for the Māori electorate seats could be in for a shakeup.