Hone Harawira’s Suspension | Dr Rawiri Taonui

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[Edited version used misleading rather than dishonesty although that is the word used in the complaint; it also deleted the QSM reference]

The suspension of Hone Harawira from caucus two days before this mornings disciplinary sent a pre-emptive message to the partys disciplinary committee that co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia want him gone. Some party members also say it confirms the co-leaders orchestrated the Te Ururoa Flavell authored complaint.

The process has been shambolic. One hui was cancelled, Mr Flavell and Mr Harawira were asked to leave a National Council meeting rather than discuss the issue, Maori Party officials said they werent invited to a meeting on a northern marae although marae tikanga isnt conditional on receiving one, and Mr Flavell refused to attend a second northern meeting. To his credit Mr Harawira fronted up at a meeting on Taheke marae in Mr Flavells tribal area, good will undone by his dickheads comment on Facebook.

Mr Sharples accused Mr Harawira of undermining him by speaking first on Waitangi Day, although Mr Harawira appears not to have had forewarning of Mr Sharples speech because unlike others including myself, he did not receive an advance copy.

Mr Harawira has made an annual speech every year at Waitangi for three decades, people expect him to speak, it is his t?rangawaewae (standing place) and papakainga (home ground).

A fair hearing is unlikely; an internet search quickly raising questions about the committees neutrality. Announced as broadly representative of iwi and a range of expertise, the five members are actually drawn from a narrow central North Island cohort centred on the three parliamentary leaders.

In fact, five of six key players share tribal links with Waiariki and share backgrounds in education with Mr Flavell and Mr Sharples.

Party President Pem Bird, the overall architect, is also from Mr Flavells Waiariki electorate where he was formerly chair.

Donna Gardiner is a co-chair of Mr Sharples T?makimakaurau electorate and tribally from Waiariki. Te Orohi Paul was Mr Flavells electorate secretary and also from there. Matiu Dickson who lives in Tainui is another from Waiariki and reportedly very close to Mr Flavell. Ken Mair who has worked closely with Tariana T?ria on the Whanganui River settlement also has tribal links to Waiariki.

Gordon Paku is from the southern Ikaroa-Rawhiti area of Ng?ti Kahungunu, the same tribe as Mr Sharples and received a QSM in 2009 one hopes not via a process that included consultation with the Minister of Maori Affairs.

Relationships in small parties are always close; however, the absence of Te Tai Tokerau, Te Tai Tonga, northern Ikaroa-R?whiti or a non-Waiariki person from Tainui suggests nepotism.

The northern electorate also appears to have been left out of the meeting that appointed the committee which probably contravenes the constitution.

The party has appointed Ngapuhi elder, Patu Hohepa, to facilitate, however, he has no vote; a cultural stratagem Maori will recognize from Pakeha institutions.

The full complaint now on line alleges Mr Harawira acts unethically and without integrity and is dishonest in a way that undermines Mr Flavell, the leadership and the party.

Examples given in support are questionable. One, that Mr Harawira suggested the party explore a relationship with Labour and the Greens, seems quite normal under MMP.

Others include Mr Harawira suggesting to do more tours to reconnect with flaxroot Maori who say the party is going off the rails. Far from dishonest, the latest Te Karere Digipoll showed 45 per cent of Maori Party supporters do not support the arrangement with National and 50 per cent of all Maori voters think the government, and therefore the partnership, is heading in the wrong direction.

A third, Mr Harawira saying the party has changed its views a lot since they were in opposition is also true. Before 2009 the party voted with National 30 per cent of the time, post-2009 this has increased to 60 per cent.

Mr Harawiras opposition to the foreshore and seabed repeal is centerpiece to the complaint. However, only 23.6 per cent of Maori support the current draft. Maori were heartened this week, to hear Tuku Morgan speak of possible concessions from government. If changes make it less discriminatory then much of the credit should go to the MP who questioned it most, Mr Harawira.

Mr Hawira sometimes lacks judgment. The partnership with National has been the right thing to do. The expletives and derogatory references have to go. However, he is not dishonest; he does speak before he thinks which gives him a raw honesty many like.

The party leadership have spoken at length about caucus discipline. The kind they advocate has undermined generations of Maori MPs. Ms Turias experience under Helen Clarke testifies to that.

Mr Harawira is not disloyal. The M?ori Party has voted on 500 bills since 2005, Mr Harawira has voted against them only three times.

The history of small coalition parties is one of subsuming by majority partners, loss of uniqueness and implosion. The Maori Party needs Mr Harawiras forthrightness to keep fresh the principles upon which they were founded; and he needs them.

Mr Sharples is right; the future of an independent Maori party is at stake. Neither side has shown a genuine willingness to compromise. Both will lose a parting of ways. Maori voters after generations of waiting for voice will lose the most.

The gaze of a truly independent committee might well fall upon someone from Waiariki rather than Mr Harawira.

Dr Taonui is a M?ori political commentator and academic. rtaonui@xtra.co.nz

2 COMMENTS

  1. Dr Rawiri Taonui has always inspired fresh perspectives to Maori opinion including this Nationalized balls up by the Maori Party. I am supporting Hone Harawira based on his HONESTY. Where do they get off insulting his intellegence and discrediting his integrity. Shame on you all seriously…shame…shame…shame.

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