Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Harawira making own way to Mandela funeral

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira. Photo / Greg Bowker
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira. Photo / Greg Bowker

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira is making his own arrangements to get to Nelson Mandela's funeral to represent anti-apartheid protesters after being left out of New Zealand's official delegation.

Mr Harawira said he was disappointed not to be approached to go to South Africa because he felt that the five-person New Zealand delegation excluded anyone who took part in protests against the Springboks rugby tour in 1981.

He said he was determined to head to the funeral and had made his own arrangements to travel to Johannesburg.

"As a leader of the Patu Squad, and as one of the key leaders of the anti-apartheid movement of 1981, I'm going to carry their best wishes and their verses to the tangi of Nelson Mandela.

"I think it's important that somebody goes who's not representative of this National Government, which has never been supportive of the aspirations of the black people of South Africa and was staunchly supportive of apartheid at the time."

He added: "I think the Prime Minister has the right to choose whoever he wants, but he has deliberately not chosen me or [Green MP] Kevin Hague, who played a key role in the anti-apartheid movement of 1981."

The New Zealand delegation includes Prime Minister John Key, Labour leader David Cunliffe, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, former prime minister Jim Bolger, and former foreign affairs minister Sir Don McKinnon.

Dr Sharples said yesterday that he would represent protesters at the official memorial service for Mandela, but Mr Harawira did not believe Dr Sharples was the right person for the job.

"I never saw Pita in the meetings, certainly never saw him on the street," Mr Harawira said.

The Mana leader has booked a flight to South Africa this afternoon, but has not yet been given approval to use his parliamentary funding to make the trip.

If he was not given approval, he would delay his trip until he could raise money for the flight: "I don't have the money myself."

- APNZ

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