Apr 11, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

Iti asked to act as Mana-Maori go-between

2 min read


(Marlborough Express)Tame Iti, who for many represents the very face of Maori activism, says he has been tasked with sounding out Mana about how it may work with the Maori Party.

The Maori Party’s two-day conference in Whakatane focused mainly on the election of a new president, Naida Glavish, and new co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell.

But the issue of how it may work with Mana, whose leader Hone Harawira has called for a union, loomed large.

Officially the issue of whether it would hold talks with Mana has not been resolved, with co-leader Tariana Turia saying the matter needed more discussion.

Mr Iti, who was released from prison earlier this year following firearms charges linked to the 2007 Urewara raids, said after the conference that he had been asked by the party to contact Mana president Annette Sykes and “my bro from up north”, Mr Harawira.

Issues such as whether an agreement would ultimately be a detente in which the parties agreed not to stand candidates in certain seats, or a stronger alliance, would be covered.

Mr Iti stood for Parliament in 1996 for Mana Maori (a party not formally linked to either the current Mana or Maori Party), as did Mr Harawira.

His political work had become more practical over time, he said, and he supported the Maori Party’s policy of seeking to work with the government of the day, despite this leading to compromise.

Pem Bird, who stood down as Maori Party president at the conference, said informal talks with Mana had been under way for some time, including at the tangi of Labour MP Parekura Horomia. He said that while Maori may like the idea of the two parties unifying, Mr Harawira had laid down inappropriate conditions for talks and had “dissed” Mr Flavell.

Mr Harawira has also said the association with National was a “death sentence” among Maori.

Mrs Turia said there were challenges to overcome before the Maori Party could build a relationship with Mana.

The Maori Party would not resile from the principle of trying to work with the Government to make gains for Maori, she said.

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