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Maori Party Leaders Not Talking About Support For Harawira

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

Wellington, Nov 22 NZPA - Maori Party leaders are refusing to comment on reports the majority of party members are backing maverick MP Hone Harawira's fight to stay in the party.

The Maori Party's national council met in Otaki yesterday and NZPA understands that a large number of those attending backed Mr Harawira and asserted the party's authority over the parliamentary wing.

The party will hold another hui next week with the signal that the party's co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples will back away from their call for Mr Harawira to become an independent MP.

A spokeswoman for the leaders said they had no comment to make and party president Whatarangi Winiata could not be contacted.

The Sunday Star-Times reported today that Mr Harawira was determined to stay in the party, but was said to be hurt by his treatment and wanted changes to the way the caucus operated.

Mr Harawira created a storm of controversy with his abusive and foul-mouthed defence of an unauthorised trip to Paris while on a parliamentary visit to Europe.

He has apologised for his language and causing offence, but his leaders asked him a week ago to leave and become an independent MP.

Dr Sharples said Mr Harawira's comments were unacceptable and damaging to the party and race relations, though their main concern was that he did not recognise party authority and behaved like an independent anyway.

Mr Harawira is spending his time in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate he represents, talking to his local committee and supporters.

He has made a qualified apology for his remark and has said he knows he needs to build bridges with those he has offended.

On Friday Dr Sharples appeared to indicate Mr Harawira would be allowed to stay in the party, saying it had coped with disagreements before.

"All I can say is it's got to go through a process and it will go through that process," he said.

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