Harawira: I'd lead Maori - Mana Party

By Mike Barrington

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Some Tai Tokerau supporters of the Maori Party worried about leadership wrangles would like Hone Harawira back.

And Mr Harawira - who split from the Maori Party in 2011 to form the Mana Party which he leads - would be interested in a Mana-Maori coalition with him at the helm.

The Maori Party is now working its way through a leadership succession process with co-leader Tariana Turia not standing in the general election next year.

She expected co-leader Pita Sharples to also retire, clearing the way for Te Ururoa Flavell to take control.

But a spokesperson for Dr Sharples said the Maori Affairs Minister's electorate wanted him to contest the election and seek party leadership as it was considered a staged succession would help party stability.

Where that would leave Mr Flavell was unclear as he could not be reached for comment. But he was earlier reported to be considering his options as he was unwilling to wait until 2017 for a chance at leadership.

Mr Harawira told the Northern Advocate that over the past three months about 12 Te Tai Tokerau supporters of the Maori Party had urged him to return because their party was "just kind of dying".

"It is sad to see what is happening to the Maori Party and it's flattering others think I could help," he said.

"Mana is prepared to work with the Maori Party and would consider amalgamation, but we'd want clear guidelines."

Mana would not countenance any coalition with National like the Maori Party had now, he said. And Mr Harawira said he would have to be the leader of any Mana-Maori Party merger.

"I was No 3 in the Maori Party so I'd definitely be willing to lead a Mana-Maori Party - but not the Maori Party as it is now structured."

Northland Labour list MP Shane Jones said the present implosion of the Maori Party was a sad betrayal of the dreams and hopes so many in Maoridom had about independent Maori political organisations.

"Dr Sharples obviously has personal reasons for wanting to remain in politics, even though his political currency has ebbed," he said.

The difficulty with the Maori Party this year was it was propping up a National Government that had policies to privatise the energy sector and introduce user-pays for tertiary education, Mr Jones said.

Privatising energy production was impacting negatively on iwi water and energy rights and user-pays was reducing the prospect of whanau Maori improving their children's future.

"People asking themselves what Maori Party leadership is offering to improve the lot of their households can't find any single example," Mr Jones said. "The cultural narrative which was the original genius of the Maori Party has run its course."

- Northern Advocate

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