Hone Harawira is in the spotlight yet again after John Key described the Mana Party leader's trip to Nelson Mandela's funeral as a "jolly".

John Key said Mr Harawira's trip to South Africa was "a taxpayer-funded junket" and "it appeared" Mr Harawira had not attended the funeral.

Mr Harawira was travelling yesterday and unable to reply to Northern Advocate questions but a Mana Party spokeswoman confirmed he had attended several memorial functions in South Africa and had several meetings with various activist and anti-poverty groups and campaigners.

He attended an inter-faith memorial service at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, along with thousands of people and many international delegations, and at the viewing of Mr Mandela's body at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Mr Harawira performed a haka and his wife Hilda a karakia.

Advertisement

The Harawiras were also recognised as respected New Zealanders by being invited to visit family members at the Mandela home - an invitation that was not extended to Mr Key's handpicked, five-man delegation, the spokeswoman said.

Mr Harawira had approval from the Speaker's office to use his leader's budget to pay for the trip. The Mana Party has since fundraised to cover the travel costs of Mr Harawira's wife, the Mana spokeswoman said.

Mr Key's group learned on arrival at the December 11 memorial service that no more than two people were allowed in the official representation from most countries. Yesterday he said he did not feel there was a role for Mr Harawira to go to South Africa. However, the Harawiras had been active in New Zealand anti-apartheid protests, including against the Springbok rugby tour in 1981.

His rival, Labour MP Shane Jones, had tipped Harawira as a worthy member of the official delegation.