Harawira cops flak over trip to Mandela's funeral

By NZ Herald

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Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

Prime Minister John Key has accused Mana leader Hone Harawira of taking a taxpayer-funded junket to South Africa after it appeared Mr Harawira did not attend Nelson Mandela's funeral.

Mr Harawira travelled to South Africa separately from New Zealand's official delegation last week because he felt anti-apartheid protesters needed to be represented at the official memorial for the former South African leader.

He received approval from the Speaker's office to use his Leader's budget to pay for the trip.

Mr Key said this morning that Mr Harawira had gone to the country "on a jolly" and he should not have billed the taxpayer for it.

He said the delegation represented "the right mix" of New Zealanders and he did not feel there was a role for Mr Harawira to go to South Africa.

"This is a guy who has barely turned up to Parliament in 2013 ... He has spent a hell of a lot of 2013 doing anything other than actually taking his place in Parliament.

"He has to stand up to his own constituents, but I for one don't support what he's done."

Mr Harawira led protests against the Springbok tour of New Zealand in 1981 and wanted a protester to be part of the group.

Mr Key defended the choice of New Zealand delegates, saying he was under pressure to take a small number of people.

"I can't be sure but I'm pretty sure the Australian delegation was two. We took five and within half an hour of beginning they were still telling us we had to choose two to go to the actual memorial service."

Anti-apartheid protester John Minto - who many felt should have gone to South Africa - would "have his place in history", Mr Key said.

The New Zealand delegation included Mr Key, Labour Leader David Cunliffe, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, former Prime Minister Jim Bolger, and former Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Don McKinnon.

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- Northern Advocate

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