"I'm a radical when it comes to politics but a conservative when it comes to moral issues."
That's what Mana Party leader Hone Harawira told me when I questioned him over his reluctance to support gay marriage.
Harawira didn't condemn or oppose gay marriages in our interview but he said he needs the issue to be worked through a party process, so meetings were being planned over the next month.
He said he knew that people would be disappointed and surprised at his conservatism, given that he's seen as a radical when fighting for Maori rights.
But he can't help his upbringing – his grandfather was a priest and he and his wife are about to celebrate 40 years of marriage.
Hone's always believed that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman so same sex marriage is not something he easily supports.
His view has infuriated some of the key activists in his party who are astounded that someone who has fought for years against oppression of Maori could be so ignorant and reluctant to support homosexuals having the same rights as heterosexuals.
He's been abused and insulted on Facebook but Harawira is not fazed in the least because he's been abused by the best of them.
He will be worried though that some of his leadership will now be looking sideways at him.
President Annette Sykes and co-vice presidents John Minto and Mereana Pittman are long-time fighters for justice for Maori and homosexuals.
So it'll be fascinating to watch how he copes with the challenge.
While there's no doubt that those three will challenge Harawira's views, they also have a responsibility to keep the party stable so it'll be incumbent upon them to quell the dissenters in the party which won't be easy.
The Maori Party will be having a good old laugh at Harawira's expense right now.
It's ironic that his conservative view mirrors exactly the view of the Maori Party, which did not support the Civil Union Bill.
Some of the activists in Mana need to get a reality check.
Harawira is a product of his upbringing and he's like most Maori leaders who do not see the fight for homosexual rights as important as the fight for Maori rights.
While that might be wrong, it's the reality that confronts activists in Mana at the moment.
It would be in their interests to show some patience and continuing abuse of him will not help and could lead to the party falling apart.
Hone has proven himself to be a fighter and supporter of the underdog and I'm sure after hearing all the arguments and going through the process that he will make the right decision and support gay marriage.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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