Maipi-Clarke’s maiden speech at the parliament is disregarded as publicity stunt; it is nothing but.  

A young woman dressed in white attire, with a hint of red peeking in her sweater, stood at the front seat of New Zealand’s parliament. As Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke, youngest MP of New Zealand in 170 years stood on her seat, the other members of the parliament hardly noticed. However, the moment she uttered her first words in a deep and resonant tone, the entire assembly was compelled to take notice. As Maipi-Clarke stood on her seat, her body suspended in mid-air, her impassioned speech echoed through the chambers, leaving an indelible mark on the parliamentary proceedings.

The moment this powerful display took to the internet, the internet stood ablaze in a viral storm of mixed reactions.

People had not seen a women roaring like that before, stomping feet, shaking body and rhythmic chants. There was an air of intimidation so strong that it could be felt across the mobile screen. 

Some perceived it as a groundbreaking moment, while others dismissed it as a mere publicity stunt, some even dismissed the video as disrespectful for the parliament. 

This article aims to delve deeper into the significance of Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke's inaugural speech as New Zealand's youngest parliamentarian and explore its implications for Maori culture.

Why the speech was delivered:

The speech, which opened to a majestic war-cry, was Maipi-Clarke’s first speech, also known as the maiden speech or the introductory speech in the parliament. Maipi-Clarke's performance was seen as a powerful statement of her Māori identity and a way to assert her presence in the traditionally colonial space of parliament. This act sparked conversation about cultural representation, indigenous rights, and the importance of indigenous representation in the government.

The Haka dance is a war cry:

It was a way cry, indigenously known as ‘Haka’. The Haka is a powerful display of Maori culture, uniting strength, pride, and defiance. 

Originating in New Zealand, the Haka predates European colonization and holds deep significance for the Maori people of Polynesian culture.

It is performed with stomping feet, rhythmic chants, vibrating the body, and fierce facial expressions. The act is used for welcoming guests, intimidating opponents, or even mourning the dead. Traditionally, Haka was associated with warriors. Today, the Haka is also performed by athletes, artists, and everyday people, serving as a powerful symbol of Maori identity and resilience.

To understand why the war cry was performed in the parliament, we have to first understand who performed it- 

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke: The 21-year-old Maori MP:

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke is the youngest MP of New Zealand in 170 years. Maipi-Clarke is a member of Te Pāti Māori, a political party representing the interests of Māori, New Zealand's indigenous people. Both she and her father were considered by the party for the Hauraki-Waikato electorate, but due to their desire for a "youthful perspective," Maipi-Clarke was ultimately chosen to run. Maipi-Clarke is of Ngāti Raukawa and Waikato descent and comes from a family with a strong history of activism and leadership.

She is passionate about protecting the environment, upholding Māori rights and culture, and ensuring equitable opportunities for all New Zealanders.

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke’s message:

After her powerful haka performance, she delivered speech with some parts of the speech in ‘Te Reo Maori’- the Polynesian language of the Maori.

In her speech, the children of Maori community were addressed stating- “I will die for you, but I will also live for you. Never fit in, you are the perfect fit”, she added. 

The current situation of Maori people in New Zealand:

Māori are now the second-largest ethnic group in New Zealand, making up around 17% of the population. They are also increasingly represented in government, with a record number of Māori MPs in parliament. There has been a significant revival of Māori language and culture in recent decades as well. Te Reo Maori is being taught in more schools and brands are coming up with labels written in Te Reo Maori language.

On the darker side, Maori continue to face significant socioeconomic disparities compared to Pakeha (New Zealanders of European descent). They have higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and health problems. On top of this, the community is also entangled in the political debacle, where ACT New Zealand, a liberal political party at New Zealand has offered to avert the historic Treaty of Waitangi. 

The Treaty of Waitangi settlements process has seen billions of dollars paid out to Maori tribes in compensation for historical land confiscations. The liberal party is on the hunt to revert the changes. 


More than a mere publicity stunt, Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke's inaugural speech in the New Zealand parliament was a powerful assertion of her Māori identity and a groundbreaking moment for cultural representation in a traditionally colonial space. 

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