Pressure still on leaders over Hone

By Claire Trevett

Hone Harawira. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Hone Harawira. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Hone Harawira's apology has done little to relieve pressure on the Maori Party leadership to take a strong stance against him when it meets the MP for the first time tomorrow.

Mr Harawira yesterday said sorry for offensive language he used in a widely publicised email, admitting his actions had strained the Maori Party's relationships with others, as well as many of his own relationships with Pakeha.

The apology precedes a meeting when he will front up to Maori Party co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia.

The co-leaders have so far made little comment on the email he sent to Buddy Mikaere, and would not comment yesterday, saying they preferred to wait until after the hui in Kaitaia.

However, Mr Harawira's apology left Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Phil Goff underwhelmed.

Mr Goff said it was "phoney" and it was time for the Maori Party leadership and the Prime Minister to take the matter more seriously.

Mr Key said it was an "apology of sorts" but he would leave New Zealanders to decide on its merits.

"I think everybody's getting a bit sick of the Hone Harawira sideshow."

He usually ignored Mr Harawira's outbursts, he said, but had found this one offensive. However, it was not up to him to discipline the MP.

In his apology, Mr Harawira said he regretted his choice of words - but not the meaning. He said his email had been "misunderstood".

"I note also that my comments have been misunderstood as an attack against all Pakeha and that has caused a lot of damage to my credibility throughout Te Tai Tokerau and throughout Aotearoa as well."

Mr Harawira did not apologise for skipping official business to go to Paris, but said he should have waited until the business was over to make the trip. He also was happy to repay a portion of the costs if that was required.

He said he had put a lot of energy into helping Maori and that had meant building strong relationships with Pakeha businesses in his electorate.

"I know that those relationships have been strained by my comments. I know I have work to do to repair those relationships and I intend to do so."

Mr Harawira also apologised to his own party, saying he knew his words had caused "considerable damage and unnecessary harm to our relationships with other people and other parties".

However, he lashed out at Mr Goff on Radio Waatea for saying he should be expelled from his party.

He said Mr Goff was a "bastard" and "he and his mates should be lined up against the wall and shot" for passing the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Mr Goff dismissed Mr Harawira's comments as "silly" but said it was time the Maori Party and Mr Key showed they were taking the matter seriously. "He has still not apologised for ripping off the taxpayer - in fact he's bragging about it - and nor has he apologised for making obscene and racist remarks. I don't think somebody that behaves in that way and shows no contrition for it has any place in Parliament at all."

Mr Harawira said he had deliberately kept his distance from the co-leaders as they had ministerial duties to attend to. He was happy with their decision to hand the matter to the party president and vice-president.

- NZ Herald

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