Hone Harawira quits Maori Party

By Hayden Donnell

Newly-independent MP Hone Harawira. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Newly-independent MP Hone Harawira. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Outspoken MP Hone Harawira has left the Maori Party to form a new political movement.

A statement issued by Mr Harawira today said he would become an independent MP for the rest of the parliamentary term.

He would contest November's general election in his Te Tai Tokerau electorate as an independent or with a new political movement.

The decision was to avoid destroying the Maori Party he had worked hard to build up, he said.

"I did not lead the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed March from Te Rerenga Wairua to Parliament that gave birth to the Maori Party, to see it destroyed by infighting five years later, and I understand the vital importance of putting the problems of the past few weeks behind us so that we can all move on.

"I am also comfortable with the view that we have come to a point where we can all agree that it is best for me and the party to go our separate ways, and to focus on the issues that are crippling Maori people, and indeed Pasifika and Pakeha people living in poverty throughout this country.

Mr Harawira said he had promised not to stand against the Maori Party in any other electorates in November.

In return its leadership had agreed not to stand a candidate against him in Te Tai Tokerau, he said.

His only criticism was reserved for Maori Party president Pem Bird, who had disappointed him by releasing the results of yesterday's disciplinary and disputes committee hearing to media.

Its recommendation was for Mr Harawira to be expelled from the Maori Party because his dispute with party whip Te Ururoa Flavell could not be resolved.

The party's National Council was to decide how to make a final decision on Mr Harawira's future today.

Mr Harawira said the leak had undermined the credibility of the process and pre-empted the Council by resigning.

He said he would start a new political movement focussed on what is good for Maori and would be releasing detailed policy closer to the election.

"My life before entering politics was one of constantly challenging myself and those around me to achieve positive change for Maori, and I am confident that there is a lot more that I have to contribute to the political makeup in this country.

"I look forward to the next few months with optimism and renewed vigour, and with a focus on building a movement that acknowledges that what is good for Maori will also be good for Aotearoa."

Mr Harawira did retain a link with the Maori Party - agreeing to meet with its caucus to discuss issues of common concern and giving them his votes to pass on in his absence from parliament.

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