Maori Party and Hone Harawira to split?

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The Maori Party complaint against MP Hone Harawira laid by colleague Te Ururoa Flavell with the support of co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia, and Rahui Katene, following Mr Harawiras remarks about the party in last weeks Sunday Star Times may lead to a parting of ways writes Dr. Rawiri Taonui.

“The northern MP has been at odds with colleagues since their unsuccessful attempt to dislodge him over the white mfs comment two years ago, something which exposed already existing tensions in style and purpose.

Both sides are equally principled, Mr Harawira encapsulates the voice of the lowest common denominator of Maoridom, those not benefiting from Treaty of Waitangi settlements and those suffering most from what he describes as Nationals anti-worker, anti-beneficiary and anti-environment (and therefore anti-Maori) programme. Mr Harawira has faith that a future coalition of Labour, the Green Party and the Maori Party will deliver more for Maori, however, this is unlikely until 2014.

His draw a line in the sand approach stands in stark contrast to Ms Turia and Dr Sharples who, representing the same constituency, see their role in a kawanatanga-governance context working with whoever leads whatever government for the benefit of Maori.

The gains have been many – Whanau Ora, acceptance of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, twin flags on Waitangi Day, dedicated Maori prison programmes, the Tobacco Inquiry, a constitutional review including reviewing the place of the Treaty, removal of an electoral referendum on the Maori seats, and a raft of programmes in health and economic development.

Ms Turia and Dr Sharples believe compromise an inherent part of partnership. Mr Harawira believes that over-compromises the independent voice the party was founded upon.

And, there have been costly compromises, Whanau Ora is much reduced, the minimum wage is low, the three month window to sack new employees unfair, and tax cuts and the GST rise favour the rich. However, on balance gains far outweigh losses – too many to squander on an irrevocable split.

The stakes are high with the partys much vaunted unity now having more cracks than the Christchurch CBD.

If Mr Harawira leaves or is booted from the party he will survive. Unlike Tau Henares fall from grace after the New Zealand First occlusion, Mr Harawira appears to own the Tai Tokerau electorate. They also own him and will not let the Maori Party National Council push them into a meeting until they can muster support.

A Harawira departure will fractionate support outside of his electorate. Murmurings of a new Maori party built on a groundswell of Maori opposition against the Takutai Moana (Coastal and Marine) Bill and centred on Mr Harawira will divide Maori between the Maori Party, a new Maori Party and Labour something Maoridom doesnt have the resources to support.

The bad publicity alone may scuttle the goal to clean sweep the seven Maori seats this year. Ms Turia and Dr Sharples will certainly secure their seats. However, Nanaia Mahuta and Parekura Horomia could look to romp home in Waikato and Te Tai Rawhiti.

A backlash if Mr Harawira is dropped will potentially reduce majorities in Waiariki and Te Tai Tonga if not deliver them into the hands of Labour.

Master of Maori one-liners, Shane Jones, will dine on the division. Mr Harawiras disclosure that Maori Party voting in support of the National Party has doubled to 60% since the last election unwittingly plays to Mr Jones recent mantra that the Maori Party are National Party subalterns.

Conservative National Party members may also seize the opportunity to exert pressure of their own. They want Mr Harawira gone. In their view the remaining four Maori Party MPs are more controllable without them. They may even reject a Maori party arrangement after this years election if Mr Harawira stays.

The existing accommodation within the Party allowing Ms Turia and Mr Sharples to affect what policy they can, and Mr Harawira to criticise policy has been undermined by Mr Harawiras public criticism of the party.

Mr Flavell believes it constitutes a duplicitous breach of caucus and party unity. Commentator Willie Jackson says Mr Harawira was wrong to say what he said, but also honest because he only said what many Maori think. There are also concerns that rolling in constitutional lawyer, Mai Chien, is an ambush toward a predetermined outcome.

The only accord one can see is for the Maori Party to withdraw support for the Takutai Moana Bill thereby quelling discontent among the rank and flax, and for Mr Harawira to sometimes be quiet something which doesnt come easily for northern Maori.

One has to ask if this is a repeat of the 1990s acrimonious Mana Motuhake implosion involving Willie Jackson and Sandra Lee. The lesson from that was that stands made on fine points of principle in the absence of plenipotentiary empowerment founder on the mana of their impotency.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. I found this in an article not to bad for a lengend in the making -Go Hone fopr representing my moko Born and unborn

    The Maori Party’s greatest strength (outside the Maori seats themselves) is also its greatest weakness. As an ethnicity-based party it claims to speak for a whole people and its unique kaupapa. In theory, it is a pan-Maori voice.

    But it’s of course folly to act as if all Maori think and vote alike, so its attempts to speak for all Maori can mean it ends up pissing off many. In hindsight, I think 2010 will be seen as the year when the difference of opinions and political beliefs within Maoridom, amongst iwi, and between business groups and working class individuals began tearing at the fabric of the party. Ultimately, it has to ask how long it can go on trying to represent an entire ethnicity.

    Hone Harawira had an impressive year, moving on from his silly travel antics of 2009 and buckling down to the hard yards of parliamentary life. I suspect he commands more sway over public life than any other backbench MP. For me, he was the non-government MP of the year.

    Consider these points:

    ?Harawira’s crusade against smoking won a select committee inquiry and, remarkably from National, a tax increase

    ?He offered more potent and populist criticism of the government than just about any other MP, save Phil Goff

    ?More and more Maori are coming in behind his opposition, revealed as early as last February, to his own party’s foreshore policies

    ?He has consolidated his power in the Maori north. He now owns Te Tai Tokerau and so is beyond the reach even of his own leaders

    ?His articulation of Maori anger from inside the House is of immense worth to the country’s race relations. He gives those who might otherwise feel disenfranchised and alienated a voice. Frankly, if Harawira didn’t exist, we’d want to invent him.

  2. The 1990s incident was actually 2001 and if dodgey characters within the Alliance weren't stirring the pot, Laila would probably be running the show about now and Willie and Sandra would not be being blamed unfairly

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