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Onus On Harawira To Prove He Means What He Said: PM

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

Wellington, Dec 2 NZPA - It is up to Maori Party MP Hone Harawira to demonstrate that he means his apology for "racist and offensive" behaviour, Prime Minister John Key said today.

Mr Harawira stayed as member of his party's caucus today after his colleagues decided to give him another chance.

He will confine himself to his Te Tai Tokerau electorate in the Far North until the end of the year, then rejoin the caucus in 2010.

He made a second but more fulsome apology this morning for previous offensive remarks.

Mr Harawira got into trouble with his party because of an unauthorised trip to Paris while on a parliamentary visit to Brussels and his racially abusive email in defence of it which referred to white people as "motherf...ers". He has since paid back part of the cost of the trip at the request of Speaker Lockwood Smith.

Party leaders asked him to consider leaving and becoming an independent MP, but he said he was determined to stay in the ranks.

The Prime Minister noted the apology for what he described as "racist and offensive" behaviour, the spokesman said.

"The onus is on Hone Harawira to demonstrate to the public that he means it," he said.

After a series of hui in Mr Harawira's electorate, the party caucus met late into last night to consider what to do. The meeting was not attended by co-leader Tariana Turia, who is recovering from gastric bypass surgery, but the decision to allow Mr Harawira to stay was unanimous, the other co-leader Pita Sharples said.

A sombre Mr Harawira said sorry to his fellow MPs for pain and suffering he caused and for how his remarks had derailed credibility the party had fought to achieve.

He also apologised more generally for offence caused.

"I apologise also to those New Zealanders, both Maori and Pakeha, and particularly women, who have been offended by my comments. They were insensitive, they were hurtful, they were unnecessary, and I apologise for the grief and anguish that they have caused."

However when pressed about whether he accepted his comments were racist, Mr Harawira was defensive. He defined racism as "the power to impose your racial views on the rest of society.

"Given that I don't have that power as an individual member of Parliament, it's kind of difficult to assume that my comments are racist."

Labour leader Phil Goff said it was up to New Zealanders if the apology was heartfelt.

"I think New Zealanders as a whole will decide whether the apology is genuine or not. There is only a point in making an apology if it is real, but I'll let other New Zealanders make that call," he said.

"I would much prefer a real apology be made and let everyone move on, but if there is no contrition I guess the issue it still there."

Mr Goff said anyone in his caucus who had acted in such way would have been chucked out.

"Most of us would love to be sent back to our electorate for the summer."

He felt there were deep divisions within the Maori Party and these would remain.

Dr Sharples denied the leadership had backed down in the face of Mr Harawira's refusal to go.

The party had emphasised to Mr Harawira that he was responsible to the whole party and not just his electorate.

Dr Sharples admitted that should Mr Harawira's behaviour continue, it would make it hard for the party to make gains and it had already caused damage.

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