Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Alliance on agenda

Kim Dotcom addresses the Mana Party meeting. Photo / Daily Post
Kim Dotcom addresses the Mana Party meeting. Photo / Daily Post

Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom have taken the next step in their slow dance, after Mana Party members agreed late last night to move forward in negotiations with the Internet Party.

The Mana Party has given its leaders a month to negotiate, before they put any proposed alliance out to the party's local branches for consultation.

Dotcom put his case to about 200 Mana members gathered for their annual meeting at Rotorua's lakeside Mataikotare Marae yesterday.

The internet tycoon and his entourage arrived at the Mana annual meeting in large Porsche and Mercedes SUVs but he pulled out all the stops to convince Mana of his working-class credentials.

He had spent the journey down from his Coatesville mansion being briefed by a Ngati Whatua kaumatua on marae protocol and the Treaty of Waitangi.

The German millionaire and alleged internet pirate spoke of his impoverished terror-stricken childhood as the son of an alcoholic father.

Having grown up poor he was committed to Mana's core principles of tackling poverty.

"I'm all for the betterment of Maori, I'm all for social justice. Just because I live in a big flash house doesn't mean I don't care about people who are disadvantaged."

Dotcom also laid out his vision of how technology could help the Mana Party engage with voters and could alleviate poverty.

"I was in a low social situation. Technology has helped me to become an entrepreneur and to become successful so why shouldn't that be replicated for young people in New Zealand who are not living in the big cities and are disadvantaged right now?"

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira told reporters Dotcom "did extremely well".

Mana hadn't sat down for detailed discussion with the Internet Party about any potential funding deals between them, "but if the relationship is good then other things come with that". Mana brought the "very valuable asset" of a seat in Parliament to the table.

Even before members decided whether to continue discussions with the Internet Party, Mana's Tamaki chairman Joe Trinder told the Herald On Sunday: "It's a go."

"He won that crowd over easily. All the socialists that were kind of against it, he nullified their arguments ... He is from the working class so their arguments were fruitless."

However, senior figures from Mana's left, including Sue Bradford, voiced opposition to any deal.

Dotcom told reporters later a tie-up with Mana was "a win-win situation".

Dotcom said an electoral alliance could see the Internet Party get MPs into Parliament on Harawira's coat tails, assuming he holds his Te Tai Tokerau seat in September's general election.

- Herald on Sunday

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