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Harawira Given Two Weeks To Ponder His Future With Maori Party

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

By Tony Gee for NZPA

Kaitaia, Nov 12 NZPA - Firebrand MP Hone Harawira has been given two weeks to decide if he wants to remain a Maori Party MP, in the wake of his racially abusive comments about white people.

At a hui in his electorate on the outskirts of Kaitaia today, Mr Harawira was told he could become an independent MP, party president Professor Whatarangi Winiata told reporters.

Mr Harawira rejected that as "the silliest idea I've heard".

The hui was held as the Maori Party pondered what to do with their fast-talking MP, who has been in the headlines for the past week.

Co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia had distanced themselves after his "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.

Dr Sharples did attend the hui, which was attended by about 200 people and lasted about three hours.

Prof Winiata said the party had asked for two weeks to work with Mr Harawira, and the party would decide the agenda.

The party hierachy had not come north to punish Mr Harawira, he said.

Mr Harawira was unhappy with the Maori Party suggestion that he leave and become an independent, Prof Winiata said.

The party would decide whether Mr Harawira would stay on, and how he could best become an effective politician.

Mr Harawira had posed problems for the party, Prof Winiata said.

"We would like him to be a member of the party, so long as he does not destroy the party," Prof Winiata said.

"We know he is a good speaker and an analyst, but we just haven't known how to manage him."

No ultimatums were presented at the hui, and he believed the party could find a way for Mr Harawira to remain part of the parliamentary team.

For his part, Mr Harawira said nothing had changed. He had no intention of leaving the Maori Party.

He was in no doubt that was where his future lay, and he was heartened with the huge level of support he got from the people in his Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

He wanted to use his chance in the next two weeks to talk to people in Te Tai Tokerau and "draw strength" from them.

He intended to return to Parliament with "all guns blazing".

The hui was held amid 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.

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

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.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters today said the Maori Party should have instantly expelled Mr Harawira for his "outrageous racist behaviour".

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