Hapu leader warns Harawiras to stay away from Waitangi

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira and his activist mother Titewhai Harawira have been urged to stay away from Waitangi Day commemorations by a Maori leader.

The call comes only five days before official Waitangi Day commemorations and throws factions within Maoridom back into the spotlight.

David Rankin, Matarahurahu hapu leader, said today the Harawiras had "disgraced the marae, disgraced Waitangi Day and disgraced New Zealand".

"If they are unable to behave themselves, then they are not welcome to Waitangi."

Mr Rankin, who claimed to have seniority to the Harawiras in the hapu, is a descendant of Hone Heke, the first chief to sign the Treaty of Waitangi.

Mr Rankin was particularly critical of Mr Harawira.

"Hone needs to understand that he cannot trample on the tikanga of our hapu for petty political gain.

"If he wants attention he can get it elsewhere.

"We are tired of the protests, tired of people being reduced to tears and tired of how our annual celebrations have been hijacked in this way."

Mr Rankin said his electorate would judge the Harawiras accordingly, if they did turn up to the commemorations.

Mr Harawira was on a hikoi (march) from Cape Reinga in the Far North to Waitangi and could not be contacted this morning.

The Maori Party said today it was aware of Mr Rankin's comments and was considering a response.

- NZPA

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