Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Peters rubbishes claim he paid Harawira's protest fine

Hone Harawira. File photo / NZPA
Hone Harawira. File photo / NZPA

Current and former MPs and "ordinary people" banded together to pay the $632 fine Hone Harawira received last year for defying police at a 2012 Auckland housing protest.

But while one of his Mana Party contenders claims Winston Peters was among the donors, Mr Harawira will not name them, even though it appears he is required to do so under parliamentary rules.

The Mana Party leader was arrested when he joined protesters fighting the removal of state houses in the East Auckland suburb of Glen Innes. He was alleged to have locked himself in his car and turned his music up, blocking a Housing New Zealand-contracted truck from leaving with one of the homes.

Several months later he was found guilty of failing to comply with a police instruction, fined $500 and ordered to pay $132 court costs.

But last week at a public meeting of Housing NZ tenants in Grey Lynn, the sole nominee for Mana Party candidate for Tamaki Makaurau, Kereama Pene, said: "Our Mana leader was dragged out of his car in GI.

He got done for it. Do you know who paid his $500 fine?"

Someone called out "Kim Dotcom!".

But Mr Pene said: "No, it was worse than that, much worse than that, it was Winston Peters."

Mr Harawira last week confirmed he received assistance to pay the fine but would not say who from.

"I don't want to go naming names. Some of them were ex-MPs, some of them were current MPs, some of them were just ordinary people from GI and from other walks of life."

The money was paid "in the same way that people helped fundraise to help myself and my wife go to South Africa last year [for Nelson Mandela's funeral]. I think they just genuinely supported what I was trying to achieve."

Meanwhile, Mr Peters said Mr Pene was wrong about him paying the fine.

He recalled it wasn't a big fine and on being told it was $500, asked: "Why didn't he pay it himself?"

However, the fine, including costs, is large enough to require disclosure under the rules for Parliament's Register of Pecuniary Interests because it was paid by someone other than Mr Harawira.

The rules also require the identity of those paying off MPs' debts to be declared.

Mr Harawira last night refused to comment on what he said was a "petty" matter.

The rules

Parliament's Register of Pecuniary Interests requires MPs to give "a description of all debts of more than $500 that were owing by the member that were discharged or paid (in whole or in part) by any other person and the names of each of those persons".

- NZ Herald

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