Harawira performs haka for Mandela

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 11:46 16/12/2013
Fairfax NZ

Hone Harawira spoke to media at Auckland airport today about his trip to South Africa to pay respect to Mandela.

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Mana Party leader Hone Harawira performed a haka at the side of the body of South Africa's Nelson Mandela last week.

Back in Auckland today he says police in the Union Building had wanted to move him along but the anti-apartheid leader's grandson, Mandla Mandela, indicated he should be allowed to continue.

Harawira's wife, Hilda, performed a karanga mate or lament.

"I did it because it needed to be done," Harawira told Fairfax Media.

He said they saw the lines to see the body from kilometres out.

"We were lucky to get right to the top."

It was humbling that he reached Mandela's side when millions of his own people did not get there.

"I made it clear we were doing the haka and his grandson wanted it."

Looking upon Mandela in his casket was a fleeting impression.

"He just looked like a man ready to go back and see his old comrades," Harawira said.

He said he had delivered a message to the Mandela family "on behalf of the people who really cared for him and his struggle against apartheid.

"He is the greatest man we will ever know in our lifetime."

Harawira said he had no issue with Prime Minister John Key attending, but he did with his choice of company, former prime minister Jim Bolger and former foreign minister Don McKinnon.

Nobody was asking about taxpayers' money being spent on them, but they were on his use of taxpayer money to go to South Africa.

"Nobody ever seems to worry about ... was it worth taxpayers' money on John Key, Jim Bolger, Don McKinnon, one of whom didn't know who [Mandela] was in 1981 and the other two were pro-apartheid."

Harawira did not attend the official function nor yesterday's burial.

He went to a private service at the Mandela family home in Soweto and came out of it "energised, really positive, glad I went."

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