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Harawira Faces Hui Over Abusive Comments

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

Wellington, Nov 12 NZPA - Hone Harawira fronts up to a hui in Kaitaia today over his racially abusive comments about white people but Maori Party leaders are staying away.

Co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia appear to be distancing themselves from the uproar over the MP's "white" comment in an email, a reaction to criticism of his unauthorised trip to Paris while on a parliamentary trip to Europe.

Mrs Turia said yesterday his comments had damaged the party and it was up to Mr Harawira's local electorate to decide how he should atone for them.

She admitted there had been a "massive reaction" from the public and she had received many abusive emails herself.

The Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) MP has given a qualified apology for his remarks and the party has decided not to expel him.

But there is mounting pressure for disciplinary action.

"They cannot just let this go by as if it's one of those things that happen," United Future leader Peter Dunne said yesterday.

"It is quite an unusual set of events and I think the public of New Zealand are expecting them to take quite a strong stand."

Prime Minister John Key has previously described the comments as offensive and yesterday suggested the media should ignore him.

"I think you are giving him and his comments too much credence," he told reporters.

"He is known for making these comments. He is known for wanting media attention...if you ignore him, it might be quite an interesting result."

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said the comments had generated a record number of complaints -- 365 compared with 407 for all of last year.

He decided last week Mr Harawira had not breached the Human Rights Act because he was entitled to free speech.

Mr Harawira left a parliamentary delegation visiting Brussels to take his wife to Paris for a day's sight-seeing.

His subsequent defence of his actions included an email in which he said "white" had been "raping" New Zealand for years and he was not beholden to "white puritanical bullshit".

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