Harawira quits Maori Party

PARTING: Hone Harawira has quit the Maori Party
PARTING: Hone Harawira has quit the Maori Party

Hone Harawira has quit the Maori Party and cut a deal to protect his hold on the Tai Tokerau seat at this year's election.

In a joint statement released after the Maori Party council finished its hearing today, Harawira and Maori Party president Pem Bird said neither wanted to see the party "destroyed by in-fighting".

"We have come to the point where it is agreed it would be best for myself [Harawira] and the Maori Party to part ways and focus on issues," the statement said.

Harawira would continue to serve as the Tai Tokerau MP and would stand at this year's election as an independent MP or as a member of another party.

The joint statement said Harawira would not stand for any other seat and the Maori Party would not stand a candidate for his seat at this year's election.

"I will have my own policies [but] I will be happy to meet with the caucus to discuss issues of common concern," Harawira said.

He would give his proxy vote to the Maori Party.

"I will focus on the issues, rather than the personalities and will not speak disparagingly of one another."

Harawira was not present at the Ruamata Marae, east of Rotorua, for the Maori Party council meeting.

In his own statement released this afternoon, Harawira acknowledged "the devastation caused to the people and the communities of Christchurch" by the earthquake, which he said was "rightly in the hearts and minds of all New Zealanders" at the moment.

He said he was "extremely disappointed" that the findings of a disciplinary committee were released yesterday.

"I did not lead the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed March from Te Rerenga Wairua to Parliament that gave birth to the Maori Party, to see it destroyed by infighting five years later, and I understand the vital importance of putting the problems of the past few weeks behind us so that we can all move on," he said.

"I am comfortable with the view that we have come to a point where we can all agree that it is best for me and the party to go our separate ways, and to focus on the issues that are crippling Maori people, and indeed Pasifika and Pakeha people living in poverty throughout this country.

"I also agree that in the best interests of advancing our people's future, we focus on the issues rather than the personalities, and that we not speak disparagingly of one another."