Harawira seeks Maori Party talks

By Yvonne Tahana, Audrey Young

Hone Harawira is welcomed to the Rawhitiroa kura kaupapa in Whangarei yesterday for the Mana Party conference. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Hone Harawira is welcomed to the Rawhitiroa kura kaupapa in Whangarei yesterday for the Mana Party conference. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says he will persist in seeking new talks with the Maori Party despite initial resistance from its co-leader Pita Sharples and his own Mana members.

After 24 hours of "phone tag", Mr Harawira said last night that he would still make an attempt "and I will try with all sincerity".

Speaking after yesterday's Mana Party conference in Whangarei and his win on Saturday in Te Tai Tokerau, he said, however, that it might pay to delay matters.

"It might be better if we let this hullabaloo of the past couple of days and the last couple of weeks die down."

Earlier yesterday, Dr Sharples talked about taking on Mr Harawira again in Te Tai Tokerau at the election in five months.

His co-leader, Tariana Turia, also said there was no reason at this stage for the Maori Party not to fight for the seat in November but it needed to have a strategy review.

"The party will have to get together very quickly in the next week and look at what our strategy is going to be taking ourselves forward."

Mr Harawira forced the byelection after resigning from the Maori Party over the foreshore and seabed reforms and then resigning from Parliament and forming the Mana Party.

His previous majority of 6308 was slashed to 867 on preliminary results, with Labour's Kelvin Davis second with 4744 and the Maori Party's Solomon Tipene well behind on 1026.

Mr Harawira told the Herald that any truce was not about him, Dr Sharples or Mrs Turia but about independent political representation in Parliament.

"I don't think us tearing each other to threads is going to help that independent political voice."

He said a number of people at the Mana conference expressed disappointment that he was contemplating talking to the Maori Party.

"On a grander scale it is an important step," he said.

Earlier in the day, he was less conciliatory, suggesting to reporters that Mr Tipene, the Maori co-leaders and their party's co-president Pem Bird were too old for politics.

"I think given that four of their leadership are pensioners doesn't suggest they have the wherewithal to lead a vibrant young nation.

"That's not to put them down but, yeah, I think that's kind of lacking; they seem kind of slow and stodgy."

The Maori Party is blaming its poor result on its infrastructure being gutted when Mr Harawira left.

Dr Sharples said the leadership of Te Tai Tokerau asked the Maori Party to stand.

"We will work hard to regain the seat and to honour that call they made of us."

Labour is taking great heart from the result and MP Shane Jones, who is taking on Dr Sharples for the first time in the Auckland seat of Tamaki Makaurau, said the Maori Party was now a "ghost ship".

Mr Harawira won the booth at Dr Sharples' Hoani Waititi Marae in Glen Eden with 40 votes. Mr Davis received 35 and Mr Tipene got 24.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 22 Aug 2014 19:46:38 Processing Time: 429ms