11 Aug 2017

Pacific formal wear set to liven up Parliament garb

8:21 pm on 11 August 2017

Parliamentary fashion could soon be a lot more colourful after a campaign by young Pacific advocates to allow traditional Pacific clothing in the House.

Josiah Tualamali'i at the Pacific Youth Parliament.

Josiah Tualamali'i at the Pacific Youth Parliament. Photo: Josiah Tualamali'i

MPs voted on Thursday on amendments to Standing Orders, which included the changes to the definition of 'formal wear'.

The change means clothing like puletasi and ta'ovala may soon grace the House.

It was one of two ideas suggested by the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council (PYLAT), which aims to engage more Pacific youth in democracy.

The group's second suggestion was to allow Pacific languages be spoken in the House.

PYLAT chair Josiah Tualamali'i told Morning Report the idea came after he was in a group visiting Parliament and he had to wear a jacket over his formal Pacific clothing when he sat in the Speaker's gallery.

"We were already dressed formally - it seems strange that we have to adopt something else for it to be considered formal.

"So we wanted Parliament to be really clear on that, and to be really clear on the languages that can be spoken there."

Mr Tualamali'i said both PYLAT's recommendations were welcomed by the Standing Orders committee, and soon Pacific MPs can be dressing traditionally in the House.

"We hope they do, absolutely, they can rock it and show off their culture.

"It will kick in from the new Parliament - these are the rules that will apply after 23 September.

He said he was hoping Parliament would adopt more of PYLAT's ideas - they had 14 in total.

"In the future we hope that we can see young people speaking on the floor of the House when big events are happening, and also that you can use phones in Parliament."

A sense of belonging was one of the best indicators of success, said Mr Tualamali'i.

"And if you can't see yourself in the clothing that people are allowed to wear, I don't think you can feel like you belong.

"We asked to change it, and it's worked."

The Pacific Youth Parliament.

The Pacific Youth Parliament. Photo: Josiah Tualamali'i