Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Harawira free to start anew after quitting Maori Party

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

Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira has quit the Maori Party to become an independent MP and may form a new party of his own.

His decision to resign was part of a negotiated deal with the party's national council yesterday and it means the council will not now expel him - as its disciplinary committee had recommended.

In the deal, Mr Harawira has agreed not to criticise the Maori Party and will instead concentrate on issues.

Any new party he forms will not contest the other six Maori seats - four of which are held by the Maori Party and two are held by Labour.

If those conditions are met, the Maori Party will not stand a candidate against him in the north.

That allows Mr Harawira the option of forming or joining another party and concentrating on the party vote to get other MPs into Parliament.

He announced he would contest this year's election "either as an independent or as a member of a new political movement".

The Maori Party will exercise his proxy vote when he is not in Parliament.

Mr Harawira said he would consult supporters in his electorate and around the country.

He claimed that the hikoi against the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 "gave birth to the Maori Party".

He did not want to see the party 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".

Mr Harawira has been considering forming a new party, and former Green MP Sue Bradford is a prospective player.

Mr Harawira had vowed in the past to stay with the Maori Party in the face of disciplinary action against him initiated by party whip Te Ururoa Flavell, the MP for Waiariki.

The party's national council met in Rotorua yesterday. Co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples said the caucus was pleased the party had reached "a positive resolution with Hone and we can move forward representing the issues for our constituency".

- NZ Herald

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