Labour MP Willie Jackson becomes first Māori to take part in Oxford Union debate

Willie Jackson took part in the debate this morning, New Zealand time, making him the first member of Parliament since former prime minister David Lange to be asked to debate at Oxford.

Other New Zealanders such as the late Georgina Beyer and former prime ministers have addressed the Oxford Union, but have not participated in an actual debate.

Jackson was arguing against the debate motion, ‘This House believes British museums are not very British’.

In his introductory speech for the debate Jackson paraphrased Lange’s famous quip during the nuclear weapons Oxford debate 39 years ago, “I can smell the colonialism on your breath from here,” he said.

In the speech he implored the British Museum to return mokomokai – preserved heads of Māori ancestors – to New Zealand.

“The British Museum has collected our ancestors together as curiosities, divorced from the culture that produced them – a little bit like a Chicken tikka masala is to the British. That’s very British.”

Jackson and his debating partner, American author Gary Vikan, were later judged the winners of the debate.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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