Claire Trevett 's Opinion

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

Claire Trevett: Harawira's dance with Dotcom a shortlived one

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Hone Harawira initially played hard to get, rejecting a first invitation to meet Dotcom. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Hone Harawira initially played hard to get, rejecting a first invitation to meet Dotcom. Photo / Brett Phibbs

It is becoming a tradition when the Prime Minister is out of the country for the political krill to leap into the vacuum rattling their ice rakes to make a lot of noise.

At the start of the year while John Key was still ensconced on the golf greens of Hawaii, Kim Dotcom planned a "Party Party" to launch his album and political party in one simultaneous megabang. He pulled the pin after the party poopers at the Electoral Commission warned it could breach electoral laws against treating. At the same time, Conservative leader Colin Craig was frantically hitting his flint at the anti-smacking law by revealing he smacked his own kids and Act was hunting for a new leader.

This time round, we were treated to revelations about the second round of the cotillion dances hosted at Dotcom's court as he prepared again for the launch of his political party today.

Top of the invitation list to this season's ball was Mana leader Hone Harawira.

The name for the cotillion dance derives from the French word for petticoat (cotillon), and it transpired Dotcom had indeed been flashing his petticoats with vigour, revealing the potential for his Internet Party and the Mana Party to run under a combined ticket to maximise their vote.

The reason for all this petticoat swirling was because of the promise Dotcom made in February that the Internet Party would pull out of the race and back another party if the polling made it clear it could not hit 5 per cent. The joint-umbrella proposition was plan B being invoked.

It quickly became clear the attraction for Dotcom was that Harawira's tuxedo sported a magnificent coat-tail, called the Te Tai Tokerau electorate. Dotcom hoped his Internet Party could hitch a ride into Parliament on this coat-tail. In return, Harawira wouldn't have to bother with any of that anti-democratic nonsense known as fundraising.

Just like the over-hyped "talks" between the Mana Party and the Maori Party last year, it evolved into one of those shaggy dog tales, meandering on and on without seeming to have any point at all and no punchline.

After Dotcom revealed the talks with Harawira to the Herald on Sunday, Harawira issued a statement. Some bits were in red typeface, either to emphasise them or to send a subliminal message that a deal with Dotcom would mean an end to the days of red ink for the Mana Party.

It revealed Harawira initially played hard to get, rejecting a first invitation to meet Dotcom because he didn't want to get trampled in the rush by other politicians to the powdered dance halls at the mansion. He had since met Kim Dotcom in a mate's house on the North Shore rather than the exclusivity of the Dotcom mansion. He swore the only matters discussed were how much they didn't like John Key, the Bundesliga, and how much they did like New Zealand beaches. There was no talk about money or joining each other's parties, but Harawira did conclude they had "common interests".

Other Mana stalwarts saw things rather differently. Sue Bradford pointed out if Mana was true to its principles it should avoid any contact whatsoever with Dotcom and his party. She pointed to Dotcom's wealth, the stories emerging about his treatment of staff, and the charges he was facing.

For once in his life Key found himself in agreement with Bradford, whom he most often sees in the protest lines picketing National Party functions. He made the point succinctly to media at The Hague where he was attending the Nuclear Security Summit. He pointed out Mana's emphasis was supposed to be on "some of the poorest people in New Zealand" whereas the Internet Party was "focused on one person".

Duly, six days later Harawira issued another press release without any red typeface. It effectively ruled out any nuptials between the parties, not because of Bradford's concerns but because he had decided its areas of commonality were not as great as originally thought. That was because the Internet Party would not rule out working with National. Harawira also suddenly found issue with the fact the Internet Party did not have a real membership base, nor any clear policies, nor any candidates or "recognisable political leaders". There would be no more meetings until the Internet Party sorted itself out. Sorting itself out apparently meant committing to getting rid of National and adopting Mana's policy platform.

It ended with the rather Mob-like statement, "they know how to get in touch with us". In case they didn't, there was a name and phone number at the bottom of the statement.

So just in time for Key's arrival back to the country, things had come to the tidy conclusion of being exactly where they were when he left. However, Dotcom's statement the Internet Party might be happy to work with National if Key adopted a "different tone" towards him will be as horrific a thought for Key as it was to Harawira. Dotcom might have dedicated rap songs to Key. The only tones Key is likely to use in return are those used in death metal.

- NZ Herald

Claire Trevett

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

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor and joined the Press Gallery in 2007. She began with the Herald in 2003 as the Northland reporter before moving to Auckland where her rounds included education and media. A graduate of AUT's post-graduate diploma in journalism, Claire began her journalism career in 2002 at the Northern Advocate in Whangarei. Claire has conjoint Bachelor of Law/ Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Canterbury.

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