Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Harawira shrugs off defections danger over Dotcom deal

Kim Dotcom and wife Mona hosted more than 700 Internet Party members at their Coatesville mansion yesterday. Photo / Richard Robinson
Kim Dotcom and wife Mona hosted more than 700 Internet Party members at their Coatesville mansion yesterday. Photo / Richard Robinson

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has indicated he's prepared to lose senior party figures such as founding member Sue Bradford over a proposed link with Kim Dotcom's Internet Party.

Mana's seven branches voted unanimously at the party's annual meeting in Rotorua over the weekend in favour of pursuing the deal.

But there was strong dissent within those groups, including from veteran activist Ms Bradford, who Mr Harawira said left the meeting before the vote was taken.

Ms Bradford later told the Herald: "There was deep debate, deep dissension and resistance to the idea of going into an alliance with the Internet Party.

"Some of us, both Maori and Pakeha, are really disturbed by the idea of going into an alliance with a neo-liberal millionaire."

After Mana president Annette Sykes said she was concerned the party was proving to be "fragile" over the issue, Mr Harawira said he accepted that not everybody in the party was going to agree on a deal with the Internet Party.

"Will there be resignations? Quite possibly. There haven't been today. I'm not that fussed about it.

"There's always going to be people who come in and out for various reasons and that's fine."

Asked whether he thought the deal would go ahead, Mr Harawira said: "I'd certainly like to think so."

A final decision is likely to take a further month. Agreement is needed on the mechanics of the deal, on policy bottom lines between the two parties and on who Internet will field as candidates.

Mr Harawira indicated the final decision would be made by senior party figures rather than a wider vote.

"It will probably be made by the executive in the final analysis."

Ms Bradford last night said she would consider her future with Mana once a final decision was made.

Former InternetNZ head and Internet Party chief executive Vikram Kumar said there were several areas of common ground with Mana.

"There is definitely a common interest of changing the National Government, and there is a common interest in economic development, particularly for young Maori and in the rural areas."

While the two parties are still in the early stages of understanding how their possible alliance could work, Mr Kumar stressed that neither party had to give up their sovereignty.

"It was never meant to be looked at as a merger."

The vote on proceeding with the Internet Party talks came after Mr Dotcom put his case to about 200 Mana members on Saturday.

While they continued their meeting at Rotorua's lakeside Mataikotare Marae yesterday, more than 700 Internet Party members convened pool-side and on the expansive lawns at Mr Dotcom's Coatesville mansion, where they heard from Mr Dotcom on how they could be a part of the policy-making process.

In Rotorua, Mana heard from another multi-millionaire, Gareth Morgan, who said Maori were suffering under a regime of "ethnic disadvantage".additional reporting, Mohamed Hassan

- NZ Herald

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