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

Harawira will seek talks with the Maori Party

Hone Harawira. Photo / Getty Images
Hone Harawira. Photo / Getty Images

Mana leader Hone Harawira will seek talks with the Maori Party about his Feed the Kids bill after the Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia suggested her party would pull its support because the expansion of the KickStart programme made Mr Harawira's scheme redundant.

The Maori Party had previously indicated it would support Mr Harawira's bill for free breakfast and lunch at all decile one and two schools.

However, after the announcement of the Government funding of $1.9 million a year to expand the joint Fonterra and Sanitarium KickStart programme, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said her party would re-consider its stance on Harawira's bill. She said it appeared to be "superfluous" and its $100 million annual cost was hard to justify considering the KickStart scheme would provide free breakfasts to more schools for a fraction of the cost.

Mr Harawira was dismissive of this week's announcement, making a spitting noise and saying it expressed his views on the measure.

That reaction prompted an retort from Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell, who said that Mr Harawira was clearly upset that the extra funding had made his own scheme redundant.

"Spitting at the combined efforts of KidsCan, Fonterra, Sanitarium and the Government does not make sense. What matters is that our children are getting fed, not who signs the cheque and gets the recognition." He said a broad effort was required: "not one lone MP seeking a platform."

He also claimed Mr Harawira was partly to blame for the Government announcement overtaking his own bill - the Feed the Kids Bill was due for its first reading earlier this year but Mr Harawira sought a delay until 10 July saying it would allow him to "do justice to all my electorate activities and party leader responsibilites" as well as promote the bill further.

However, Mr Flavell claimed he wanted the extension so he could travel overseas, defend himself in Court, and campaign on it in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election." It is understood Mr Harawira is travelling to Australia and Norway for indigenous rights related meetings.

A spokesman for Mr Harawira said Mr Harawira would seek a meeting with the Maori Party next week to discuss the bill. He rejected Mr Flavell's remarks that Mr Harawira was grandstanding on the issue.

"The Feed the Kids Bill was never about Hone Harawira or Mana. It's about feeding kids who live in poverty in order for them to learn."

Mr Harawira's bill has the support of Labour and NZ First for the first reading, which would enable it to go to select committee.

However, even with the Maori Party he will need support from either United Future's Peter Dunne or Act's John Banks, neither of whom are likely to change their stance.

The Maori Party has claimed some of the credit for the boost to the KickStart scheme which came out of a Ministerial Committee on Poverty it set up with National in its support agreement.


Hone Harawira's Feed the Kids Bill:
Cost: $100 million a year.

* free breakfast and lunch at every decile one and two school
* each school to employ a 'feed the kids' coordinator.
* has initial support of Labour, NZ First, Greens and Brendon Horan. Maori Party revising its stance.

Expanded version of KickStart (Sanitarium, Fonterra and Government)
Cost: $1.9 million a year from Government for next five years.

* a further $1.9 million to be split between Sanitarium and Fonterra.
* increase free weetbix and milk breakfasts at schools from two to five days a week.
* include more schools (currently just over half of all decile one to four schools are signed up.)
* breakfast is served by volunteers organised by schools.

- NZ Herald

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