Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Harawira says sorry for email and threats

Hone Harawira was almost expelled from the Maori Party last month. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Hone Harawira was almost expelled from the Maori Party last month. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira penned an abusive email to Ministry of Maori Development officials in July over a brochure about the Maori flag, accusing them of "shafting" him and threatening to "go apeshit" and "expose this as a sham" if they did not make changes he wanted.

His co-leader, Pita Sharples, apologised to Leith Comer, chief executive of the ministry, Te Puni Kokiri, for the email, sent to five TPK staff and two workers in Dr Sharples' office in the lead-up to hui to choose a Maori flag.

Dr Sharples, also Minister of Maori Affairs, had delegated the job to Mr Harawira, giving him access to officials and support for the process.

The email was released among other documents yesterday under the Official Information Act.

In it, Mr Harawira had objected to a decision to remove the title "Maori flag" from the Tino Rangatiratanga flag in a brochure which set out the four flags being consulted on.

"I'm particularly f*****' pissed off that some clown has decided to rebrand the Maori Flag as the 'Tino Rangatiratanga' flag when in fact it was actually launched as the Maori Flag." He demanded the brochure be recalled from the printers, saying if it was not, "I will publicly expose this as a sham".

"No shit folks - either this gets sorted out, and quickly, or I go apeshit on Monday - the day before the launch." He said that while in general he expected to be "shafted" by bureaucrats, "I don't expect to get shafted over a project I was leading for the minister".

Last month, Mr Harawira's "white motherf***ers" email to Buddy Mikaere brought the Maori Party leadership to the verge of expelling him.

The July email is likely to spell the end of Mr Harawira's working with officials on ministers' behalf.

In the email, Mr Harawira also complained that the TPK logo was too large. In response, an unnamed TPK official said the advice the officials had given had been "in good faith and in keeping with the integrity of the Minister of Maori Affairs' office and responsibilities".

She apologised for the "oversight" but said there was concern about calling the flag "the Maori flag" as there had never been a consensus among Maori on it. It could be seen as pre-empting the outcome of the process.

However, the brochure was eventually redesigned to include "Maori Flag (Tino Rangatiratanga flag)".

Mr Harawira did apologise to some of the staff, and the day after the launch of the consultation hui, he emailed all the staff to offer his congratulations, adding: "Thanks for not freakin' out when I nut out. Let's do it again sometime soon."

Mr Harawira and Dr Sharples could not be contacted yesterday.

Labour MP Shane Jones said the email would do the Maori Party and the Government no favours.

"The bully-boy image does have a following in the Maori Party but it's most improper for a parliamentarian."

The exchange prompted an adviser to Dr Sharples to apologise to ministry officials.

Helen Leahy, adviser to the other co-leader, Tariana Turia, also raised the email with Dr Sharples, saying the language reflected badly on both the minister and the party and suggesting the MP apologise.

- NZ Herald

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