PM: Harawira's white tirade 'deeply offensive'

BY MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 17:36 06/11/2009

PM John Key on Harawira trip

Audio: PM on Harawira's comments

John Key and Hone Harawira
COALITION PAIN: John Key and Hone Harawira.

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The Maori Party says it is "on the verge" of disciplining MP Hone Harawira over his behaviour despite him apologising for any harm he has done to the party.

The party held a teleconference this afternoon after Mr Harawira lashed out at white people over criticism that he bunked off a work trip to visit Paris.

He has apologised for any harm to his party, but not for his actions.

 

Harawira reacted to an email criticising him for bunking off a work trip to visit Paris by lashing out at white people.

In an email exchange released to Radio New Zealand, Mr Harawira accused "white motherf***ers" of "puritanical bullshit" for expecting him to follow the rules.

"Hone has a history of making intemperate and outrageous comments and this one is right up there," Mr Key told reporters a short time ago.

 

Prime Minister John Key has labelled MP Hone Harawira's email on white people "deeply offensive" and he wants action from coalition partner the Maori Party.

"Hone Harawira has made a statement that is deeply offensive to a lot of New Zealanders."

The MP was already in trouble. This morning his party co-leader Tariana Turia expressed concerns his unscheduled side trip to Paris during a taxpayer funded work trip last month would damage the party's reputation.

Mr Harawira skipped a meeting in Brussels so he and his wife Hilda could spend a day in Paris. He paid for the extra travel himself.

Buddy Mikaere of Buddy Mikaere and Associates wrote an email to Mr Harawira complaining about his actions.

"... you're no better than that w***er Rodney Hide and the white mofos you complain about," Mr Mikaere wrote, referring to Mr Hide's actions in taking his partner on an overseas ministerial trip despite the Prime Minister John Key's direction against the practice.

"And get off you moral high horse while you're at it - nobody forced you to be an MP."

Mr Harawira wrote back starting his email; "Gee Buddy, do you believe that white man bullshit too do you?

"White motherf***ers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit."

Mr Harawira then went on to say how much time and energy he put into fighting for Maori and what a big role his wife Hilda played in that.

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"And quite frankly I don't give a shit what you or anyone else thinks about it. OK?"

Then he added a postscript saying he should feel free to go to the media.

"I answer to my people, not to them or to anybody else."

Mr Key said Mr Harawira's language was not appropriate.

But he was sent a "very provocative email and that's what he responded to but I don't think that makes it right."

He will leave the Maori Party to deal with him.

"I am going to leave that to them, ultimately he is a Maori Party MP, he is not a member of the cabinet, and not a member of the government and so in that regard it is for them to deal with."

Mr Key says Parliament always attracts "interesting personalities … who make provocative statements."

Mr Harawira was a firebrand

"He's made those statements outside parliament and has made them inside parliament."

Mr Harawira was already in considerable hot water with Speaker Lockwood Smith saying he may have to pay back some of the trip's overall cost and Mrs Turia revealing she had been led to believe the reason he skipped the meeting was illness.

"I'm very concerned, my understanding was he was ill over in Brussels but it would appear... that he went off to Paris for a trip, that it was quite a deliberate thing," she told Radio New Zealand.

"The worry for me is that Hone was the leader of that delegation and I guess that what we are going to be questioned about in future, in terms of any trips overseas, is that 'can we give a guarantee that this won't happen again, it happened in Australia?' And with hand over heart I don't think we can give that guarantee."

In 2007 Mr Harawira was told to pay back some flights after he left mid-way through a four-day select committee trip to Melbourne, so he could visit Aboriginal groups in Alice Springs.

Labour deputy leader Annette King yesterday said Mr Harawira's actions showed why the public wondered about MPs' perks.

"I think that really does make people wonder about parliamentary travel and taxpayers' money."

Mrs Turia was concerned about that and how Mr Harawira's actions would reflect on the party.

"All of us have to be really conscious as to the perception that's created as to how we use public funds, the public doesn't actually fund us to go on holidays and to have a look around and that's the reality."

Mr Harawira has been unrepentant about his actions, saying he missed nothing by skipping the meeting as he had already met those attending the meeting and discussed issues with them.

He did not think he should have to pay back any money and was glad he had undertaken the side trip, saying it would have been "dumb" not to visit such a wonderful city.

The other two MPs in the delegation, National MP Katrina Shanks and Labour MP Rajen Prasad, attended the meeting, which discussed relations between the EU and New Zealand, family and youth policies and multiculturalism.

- With NZPA

* Comments are now closed on this story.

- Stuff

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