Friday, December 05, 2008

Swearing in Samoan?

Labour MP Su'a William Sio is annoyed that he will not be allowed to be sworn in as an MP in Samoan. According to s11 of the Constitution Act 1986, MPs must take an Oath of Allegiance as prescribed in the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957. And while that Act allows oaths and declarations to be made in Maori, it does not seem to permit any other language other than English.

This is needlessly shitty. As a tolerant, diverse, and multicultural nation, New Zealand should not be engaging in this sort of puerile linguistic imperialism. Something as simple as an oath or declaration should be able to be made in any language, not just English or Maori. Unfortunately, there's nothing which can be done about it this time round, but there is an Oaths Modernisation Bill currently before Parliament which may be reinstated. It would need heavy amendment (and it needs it anyway, given NZSL's new status as an official language), but it could be adapted. Otherwise, I think Mr Sio has just found his first member's bill.

Correction: added the extra "other" in there, for clarification.