‘Charles’ or ‘skin rash’? – Maori MPs in New Zealand go off script while swearing oath of allegiance to King

'Charles' or 'skin rash'? - Maori MPs in New Zealand go off script while swearing oath of allegiance to King

Maori politicians in New Zealand went off script during their swearing-in ceremony while pledging their allegiance to the King – sparking a debate over whether they called the monarch “Charles” or a “skin rash”.

Parliamentarians must all swear an oath to the King, who is the country’s head of state.

Indigenous Maori politicians broke with protocol at the opening of parliament in Wellington on Tuesday, pledging allegiance first to their descendants and the country’s founding document.

The six MPs who belong to the Te Pati Maori – which is the smallest party in parliament and represents the Maori people – later swore allegiance to the King but at least two chose to change the word Kingi Tiare for Kingi Harehare.

Te Pati Maori co-leader Rawiri Waititi told local media Harehare was just another name for “Charles”.

However, it can also translate to mean a “skin rash” or “sore”, according to the website Maori Dictionary.

It can also be used to describe something as objectionable or offensive.

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Te Pati Maori, which would like to remove the British monarch as head of state, said in a statement ahead of the ceremony the oath was symbolic of the colonial power parliament places above the standing of Indigenous people.

Several of the Te Pati Maori members wore feathered headdresses and cloaks honouring their traditional roots and sang or performed a dance or challenge during the ceremony.

Protesters demonstrating against the incoming government and its policies in Wellington

Meanwhile, protesters demonstrated peacefully outside parliament against what they described as the “anti-Maori” policies of the newly elected conservative-led coalition government.

The new New Zealand government recently announced it would dial back the use of the Maori language and has indicated changes to the Maori Health Authority.