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Harawira Taking Time Out From Media Spotlight

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples at today's press conference to speak on the future of Hone Harawira. Pic: NZPA
Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples at today's press conference to speak on the future of Hone Harawira. Pic: NZPA

Wellington, Nov 13 NZPA - Maori Party MP Hone Harawira is taking some time away from the media spotlight after his party suggested he walk away and become an independent MP.

Mr Harawira spoke briefly to NZPA this afternoon and said he would be making no comments about recent moves that edged him towards possible expulsion from the Maori Party.

NZPA understands that Mr Harawira is taking some time away from the news media and the public as he ponders recent events.

He was due back in Wellington on Tuesday when Parliament resumes after a three-week recess.

His party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples today indicated they felt they had little choice but to expel him from caucus, as he was essentially acting like an independent MP anyway.

The pair today acknowledged mounting public anger over his abusive and racially divisive comments when defending his decision to skip parliamentary business and take his wife sightseeing in Paris.

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

"People are very upset, but we're confident we are on the right track and we'll keep working on our issues," Dr Sharples said.

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 as the "silliest idea" he had ever heard, and has strong support from his electorate committee.

Dr Sharples said they were having difficulty controlling Mr Harawira.

"He's already said this week the only people he is accountable to is Te Tai Tokerau (Mr Harawira's electorate).

"For that to happen, then clearly you're indicating you don't expect to be held to account by the rest of the caucus or our political movement."

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, but he was effectively acting as an independent MP.

The co-leaders said they were anxious to move on and deal with important issues for Maori, such as 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.

NZPA

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