Bitter MP seeks reconciliation

16:00, Nov 21 2009
Hone Harawira

Firebrand MP Hone Harawira is "hurting" over his treatment by Maori Party leaders and is preparing to give an undertaking that he can "work within party rules".

But a source close to the embattled MP says Harawira is unhappy about the way he was treated by his caucus colleagues, and is set to demand changes to the way they operate.

The controversial MP is adamant he wants to stay with the party. He is expected to give the undertaking and expand on his earlier apology at a hui next Sunday, which will mark the end of the fortnight he was given to consider his future with the party.

And this week he will seek to reconcile with parliamentary leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia and party president Whatarangi Winiata.

The debacle began when Harawira pulled out of an official parliamentary delegation in Brussels to take his wife, Hilda, to Paris for a day's sightseeing. He made matters worse by resorting to his trademark inflammatory language when challenged over the jaunt.

Buddy Mikaere, an historian and consultant on Maori affairs, suggested in an email to Harawira that he was "no better than that w---er Rodney Hide and the white mofos you complain about".


In reply, Harawira said: "White motherf-----s 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."

The Maori Party's national council, at a hui in Otaki yesterday, reaffirmed its authority over the parliamentary wing and appeared to back Harawira. Up to 25 of the party's ruling body agreed that Winiata would receive a letter from Harawira's Te Tai Tokerau electorate outlining how "mana is to be restored to the party, the leadership and Hone".

While willing to concede his email response was over-the-top and offensive, Harawira's supporters are angry at the way the party has gone about disciplining him. A friend of the MP told the Sunday Star-Times that the Maori Party was supposed to be a "grassroots" party but the leadership had failed to inform lay members how it proposed to deal with Harawira.

"He plans to stay with the party, without doubt," Harawira's friend said. "He is hurt [but] he's very loyal and he feels let down by the leadership and the way this has been handled".

"There are issues about how the caucus work together and how they have a better relationship with the party. Those are the two biggies that need to be resolved at the conclusion of the whiunga, or punishment.

"He apologised and he regrets having worded the email the way he did; he made that public and went through a process with the party which everyone understood...

"And then lo and behold the leadership make public statements about the possibility of Hone being an independent or expelled, without his knowledge.

"People see Hone's role as the conscience of the party and in many respects, when you look at parliament as a whole, he's the last of the frontline protesters.

"It's in that role that he does effect change. I don't think a lot of people are aware of what he's achieved."

Harawira has played a key role in treaty issues, Maori language revitalisation, land occupations, Maori broadcasting and led the 2004 foreshore and seabed hikoi.

"He's been very humbled by the amount of support that has come his way, and that's not just from Te Tai Tokerau, that's from throughout the country as well."

The friend said Harawira was upset that the events of recent weeks had distracted from the issues he cares about, particularly the seabed and foreshore.

"He'd like to get on with the business, and advance Maori causes as best he can and the party can," the friend said.

"In terms of smoking the peace pipe, one would hope that happens.

"Hone can play by the rules and be a very effective team member – if they learn how to function as a team."

Sunday Star Times