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Complaints About Harawira Flood In

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

Wellington, Nov 20 NZPA - Hone Harawira's "white motherf..kers" comment has provoked 753 approaches to Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres, who says the vast majority complained they had been insulted.

"Beyond that, there is alarm and sadness in their perception of its likely effect on race relations," he said today.

"People have spoken of the divisiveness of such comments, they have spoken of their anger and outrage at both the views contained in the comment and what they hear as its racist and sexist content."

The Maori Party MP's comment, made in an email responding to criticism of an unauthorised trip to Paris while on a parliamentary visit to Europe, has caused serious problems for himself and his party.

Its leaders asked him a week ago to leave and become an independent MP, although they say their main concern is that he doesn't recognise party authority and behaves like an independent anyway.

Mr Harawira has said he is determined to stay in the party and he has a week left to decide his position.

Mr de Bres said many of the people who had approached his office expressed anger and frustration about what they saw as his and Prime Minister John Key's reluctance or lack of mandate to do anything about the comment.

"A number have spoken of what they see as a double standard in how they envisage the comment would have been responded to had it been made by someone who is not Maori," he said.

Mr de Bres said he was advocating "an effective response" from the Maori Party and was prepared to offer advice on how that could be achieved.

Mr Harawira is spending his time in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate he represents, talking to his local committee and his supporters.

He has made a qualified apology for his remark and has said he knows he needs to build bridges with those he has offended.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples appeared to today indicate Mr Harawira would be allowed to stay in the party, saying it had coped with disagreements before.

"All I can say is it's got to go through a process and it will go through that process," he said.

Mr de Bres' statement came on the eve of a meeting of the Maori Party's national council, which has to decide what it will do in a week's time if Mr Harawira is still determined to stay.

The council is meeting in Otaki and will weigh up the risk of a backlash if it expels the MP, who is popular in his electorate, against the implications of allowing him to remain a member.

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