Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

'Maoridom needs a fighter': Hone Harawira to contest election

Hone Harawira will contest the Te Tai Tokerau seat and against Labour's Kelvin Davis. Photo / File
Hone Harawira will contest the Te Tai Tokerau seat and against Labour's Kelvin Davis. Photo / File

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has confirmed he will contest next year's election - saying Maoridom needs a fighter and not "a backing vocalist about six rows back".

Mr Harawira has also had a shot at Andrew Little, saying the Labour leader has been hindered by trying to "sound centrist".

This afternoon Mr Little fired back - telling the Herald the Mana leader's career was one of "spectacular political misjudgments".

"I'd rather spend my time and energy on people who are focused on positive change and progressive change and are going to lift people. Not mindless trash-talk," Mr Little said.

Speaking on The Hui, Mr Harawira said he would contest the Te Tai Tokerau seat and stand against Labour's Kelvin Davis, who took the seat from him in 2014 by 743 votes.

"No offence to the 25 Maoris in Parliament, but they are kind of hardly noticeable. You've got to have somebody who is in there who is a fighter, somebody who won't be cowed by party politics, or by parliamentary politics and who is going to stand up and say what needs to be said, whenever it needs to be said."

Mr Harawira said Labour MP Kelvin Davis and Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox had tried, "but they keep getting squeezed back into that party politics".

"Maoridom needs a fighter, not just a backing vocalist about six rows back."

Mr Harawira said former Maori Party member Annette Sykes was likely to stand for Mana next year. Former Mana candidate Jordan Winiata was also in the mix.

The alliance with Kim Dotcom's internet Party had "crashed and burned" at the last election, Mr Harawira acknowledged, capturing just 1.2 per cent of the vote.

"It was a strategic action at the time. It was going really, really well. Unfortunately Kim Dotcom decided he wanted to stay with his stuff right to the bitter end, and in the end that pulled us down."

Mr Harawira told The Hui his door was always open to the Maori Party. But he was critical of Mr Little's approach, saying he "keeps bouncing around from trying to sound tough to trying to sound centrist".

"I just think the leader of the Labour Party should have made up his mind by now, that Labour was never meant to be a party of the centre, it's supposed to be the party of the left. A party fighting for the working class."

Mr Little told the Herald that today's comments were "typical trash-talk" from Mr Harawira.

Labour was focused on changing the Government he said, and was not about "bagging others".

Asked if Labour would work with Mana, Mr Little said the party was not in Parliament at present and he was clear about working with parties that were.

"If you have a look at his track record -- he came in to Parliament with the Maori Party, left them because he couldn't work with them, went off with Kim Dotcom and got kicked out of Parliament. His track record is one of spectacular political misjudgments."

- NZ Herald

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