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Harawira Expected To Be Expelled From Caucus

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Peter Wilson of NZPA

Wellington, Nov 13 NZPA - Maori Party leaders appear to have no choice but to expel Hone Harawira from their caucus for making racist comments about white people.

Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia today acknowledged mounting public anger over his reference to "white motherf...kers" and said the Te Tai Tokerau MP was already behaving like an independent.

Dr Sharples said Mrs Turia had received 600 emails about Mr Harawira's comments, and he had received hundreds more.

The party yesterday suggested to Mr Harawira that he should leave the caucus and gave him two weeks to think it over.

He quickly rejected that, and has strong support from his electorate committee.

"We're having difficulty controlling him," Dr Sharples said at a press conference.

"If people in our caucus, in our party, feel they are not responsible to the rules, to us and our decision-making, then it makes it very difficult."

Dr Sharples said the decision to ask Mr Harawira to leave had been taken by the party, not just by its MPs, and there would be meetings during the next two weeks to discuss the situation.

The party co-leaders agreed Mr Harawira was very popular in his electorate and with young Maori people, but he was effectively acting as an independent MP.

"He has placed himself outside of our party, our caucus, so we're saying if that is so you have an opportunity to be that person (an independent MP)," Dr Sharples said.

The co-leaders said they were anxious to move on and deal with important issues for Maori like the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act and the emissions trading scheme legislation.

"We're trying to do things for our people and the only way you can do that is to have credibility," Dr Sharples said.

Mr Harawira's offensive comments were in an email he sent in response to criticism of the way he skipped off the Paris while on a parliamentary visit to Brussels.

In it he told Buddy Mikaere: "White motherf...kers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit?"

He invited Mr Mikaere to go to the media with the email, which Mr Mikaere did.

Expelling Mr Harawira would cause a serious rift within the party because of the MP's popularity and the backing his local electorate committee is giving him.

But Dr Sharples and Mrs Turia clearly feel the situation can't continue the way it is, and they said today they didn't expect Mr Harawira would change his attitude.


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