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Harawira Sheepish Over Gaffe On Second Day Back

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

Wellington, Feb 10 NZPA - Maverick Maori Party MP Hone Harawira has managed to make a gaffe on his second day back in Parliament since November, when he took enforced leave over a racially offensive email.

The gaffe involved a member's bill -- labelled Electoral (Entrenchment of Maori Representation) Amendment Bill -- he submitted, which went against his party's confidence and supply agreement with National.

Members' bills, usually submitted by opposition MPs, are considered fortnightly on a Wednesday when Parliament is sitting. They are drawn from a ballot and seldom get further than a first reading unless the Government decides they should be sent to select committees for public submissions.

Mr Harawira's bill sought to entrench Maori seats, despite the confidence and supply agreement signed between National and the Maori Party after National's 2008 election win stating "the Maori Party and the National Party will not be pursuing the entrenchment of the Maori seats in the current Parliamentary term".

Asked about the bill today, Prime Minister John Key said he wasn't aware of it, Maori Party MP Rahui Katene only said the parties had agreed on a constitutional review, and co-leader Tariana Turia said she knew Mr Harawira was putting forward a bill, but seemed surprised about the detail.

"It would be difficult if he has done that, given our arrangement with National," she said.

Mr Harawira then cleared the matter up by saying it was a mistake.

"I am glad it didn't get chosen, it was a bill that we had ready to put into the (ballot) but we have an arrangement with National in terms of our confidence and supply and, ah, it won't be going back into the ballot..."

Asked if he was trying to send a message to the party, he said; "Honest, cross my heart, it was a mistake."

"As soon as it was pointed out to me I thought holy hell, yeah, it was a mistake."

He said the bill was drafted up to three years ago.

The incident went past the co-leaders, who were not at a party meeting this morning, but was picked up by a party staffer today.

"Hopefully somebody's spoken to Tariana and to Pete (Sharples) to apologise on my behalf."

Mr Harawira acknowledged the gaffe was not a good start to the year, but said it was "par for the course".

Labour leader Phil Goff said there was a clear rift in the Maori Party which it needed to sort out.

Mr Harawira got himself in trouble with his party most recently because of an unauthorised trip to Paris while on parliamentary business in Europe and a racially abusive email in defence of it.

He was told to consider resigning and becoming an independent MP, but chose not to do so.

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