Saturday, November 7, 2009


So Hone Harawira took time off from a conference to tour Paris with his wife Hilda, so what? If Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith deems it necessary that the Tai Tokerau MP pay back some of the money given to him for the trip to the EU conference then Hone will pay it back, no problem. Does Hone Harawira need to apologise for bunking off to Paris, no. Why not? Because in the bigger scheme of things it’s not a big deal.

Does Hone Harawira need to apologise to Buddy Mikaere for the offensive email, yes I think he does. Does Hone need to apologise to anyone else for the contents of that email, no he doesn’t. The email was an exchange between him and Maori Party supporter Buddy Mikaere. If the latter deemed it necessary to hand the missive to a third party then that’s his prerogative. But the diatribe was directed at the tribal leader no one else. Should an MP of any ethnicity have written such an email, probably not.

The thing about Hone Harawira is that what you see and hear is what you get. Hone was born into activism, grew to become an activist and has matured into a veteran activist. He has dedicated his life to his people, to championing Maori issues, addressing Maori concerns and fighting what he and many others including his Maori Party colleagues consider injustices against tangatawhenua. For all his efforts the people of Te Tai Tokerau have rewarded him with their support not once but twice and two terms in parliament.

For his deeds, some would call Harawira, militant. Certainly others would call him revolutionary, you’ll even hear many of his supporters call him hero. What Harawira is, is fearless. He represents a certain breed of Maori, dedicated and focussed, passionate to the point of being articulately aggressive in his determination to promote the Maori cause. What the former St Stephen’s Maori Boy’s School pupil who grew up in Avondale Auckland is; is no hypocrite.

It is this staunchness that makes him a perfect Maori Party MP. But how staunch is the Party? Co-Leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples have a tough job on their hands, not with Harawira but with trying to balance the pressures of being in a coalition partnership with the Government. There is no doubt that Turia and Sharples would never have written or uttered the words that appeared on the Mikaere missive, the pair come from a more genteel, generous generation. But nor do they censure the passionate discourse of their people, Harawira included. So how do they appease their centre-right partners while not appearing to compromise to the point of ‘selling out’.

The Party is preparing for a disciplinary hui with the Tai Tokerau MP, no doubt there will be representatives from the wider Maori community who will insist on speaking in support of Harawira and the Party. I doubt anyone at that hui will call for his sacking and nor will Harawira resign, that would be political suicide for the Maori Party. Vacating the seat will result in a bi-election and neither the Maori Party nor Harawira will allow that to happen. As for jumping waka, that won't happen. Harawira is Maori, not a Green Party, Blue or Red Maori - just Maori.

The Maori Party and Harawira will hui, korero and discuss flax-roots kaupapa. They will remember why the Party was established and what they campaigned on. They will discuss what is of value to them and whether or not they have stayed true and loyal to the original kaupapa. They will discuss whether they have drifted off course in order to effect change as a coalition partner.

Hone Harawira is a constant reminder to the Party of their roots and sometimes it’s an uncomfortable reminder.