Maori Party MP Hone Harawira has apologised again for comments made in an offensive email and is allowed to remain with the party following three weeks of debate over his future.

He has asked and been granted permission to remain in his Te Taitokerau electorate for the remainder of the year, meaning he will miss the final two weeks of Parliament.

However, there was little by way of formal censure for him.

Mr Harawira began a media conference in Wellington to outline what action the party was taking with an apology - this time more fulsome than his previous effort.

He apologised to both Maori and Pakeha for the comments, saying they were "insensitive, hurtful and unnecessary" and had caused much grief.

He also acknowledged he was responsible for damaging his party, saying it had spent four years building up credibility and good will.

"My comments have derailed much of that credibility and set back our efforts to build bridges for our people into the future."

He said he was also aware he had responsibilities as a leader in Maoridom, and apologised to youth for setting a bad example.

At a media conference in Auckland, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said Mr Harawira was a changed man and aware of the damage he had done to wider-Maoridom.

Mr Sharples was asked about comments he made three weeks ago when he said that Mr Harawira should leave the party and become an independent. Mr Sharples said today that it was a response to Mr Harawira saying he only represented his electorate, Te Taitokerau.

"We wanted him to think. We never ever made him go, let's be clear about that," Mr Sharples said.

He said relationships inside the party were "tested" but still strong and the decision for Mr Harawira to stay was unanimous.

Mr Sharples said the party would now have to re-build bridges with other parties inside Parliament.

Asked about Mr Harawira's style, Mr Sharples said he was known for pushing the envelope.

"If it wasn't for some of those heavy demonstrations in the past, it wouldn't be possible for moderates to come along and push the same ideas more politely," Mr Sharples said.

He said the party had been open about Mr Harawira's future and had put everything on "the floor" during the hui last night.

"We've handled it our way. We're distinct from any other party in Parliament. I think people have got to realise we're a new party.

"We're just finding our own code of process in that environment," Mr Sharples said.

Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell said Mr Harawira had acknowledged his responsibility for the damage he had caused.

"We acknowledge that people make mistakes and we from time to time err ... The Party, in recognising the hurt that statements have caused hopes this apology moves some way to righting a wrong. We acknowledge the wrong."

All the Maori MPs would agree to abide by a code of behaviour, which included unity, he said.

Decisions over the punishment to be exacted on Mr Harawira were handed over to caucus after a lengthy process of meetings with his elders in Te Taitokerau and a wrap-up hui on Saturday in Whangarei.

Mr Harawira also had to repay about $1000 following a request from the Speaker.

Party president Whatarangi Winiata had asked Mr Harawira to leave the party and become an independent following an offensive email he wrote, referring to Pakeha as "white mother*******."

The email was prompted by a query from former Waitangi Tribunal director Buddy Mikaere about a day trip Mr Harawira took to Paris instead of staying with an official delegation in Brussels.

This morning Mr Mikaere said he would wait for Mr Harawira's apology before commenting on the decision of the Maori Party to allow Mr Harawira to stay.

Mr Mikaere said he would like to know if Mr Harawira still stands by his beliefs that he expressed in his email.

"If so, why is he still in politics?" Mr Mikaere said.

He declined to comment further until he had learned of the content of Mr Harawira's apology.

The party's leadership has weakened its stance since it first asked Mr Harawira to leave the party and become an independent MP. The co-leaders initially made it apparent he was no longer welcome in the party, citing their difficulty in controlling him and claiming he believed he was accountable only to his own electorate, rather than to the party.

Mr Harawira rejected the idea he become independent, acknowledging bridge building was needed, but saying remaining together was the best way to make gains for Maori.

Dr Pita Sharples said last week he would not be ejected from the party although a suspension period and apology to New Zealanders was likely.

Labour leader Phil Goff has criticised Mr Harawira strongly for his racially loaded comments, saying anybody who had made such comments in Labour's caucus would be ejected.

A TV One Colmar Brunton poll on Sunday night found 77 per cent believed Mr Harawira's comments were racist while only 16 per cent did not; 69 per cent believed he should no longer stay in Parliament.

Hone Harawira's apology in full:

Last night I met with my caucus colleagues, and I heard first hand the pain and the suffering that they have had to go through because of the senseless comments I made in an email a few weeks back, and for that I apologise.

The Maori Party has built up a good deal of credibility and goodwill during our first four years in the house, and has a vital role to play in building new pathways for our nation. My comments have derailed much of that credibility and set back our efforts to build bridges for our people into the future, and for that I apologise.

I also recognise the responsibility that I carry as a leader within Maoridom and I apologise most sincerely to all young Maori, and especially to our mokopuna, for the bad example that I have set by my comments.

I apologise also to those New Zealanders, both Maori and Pakeha, and particularly women, who have been offended by my comments. They were insensitive, they were hurtful, they were unnecessary, and I apologise for the grief and anguish that they have caused.

- With NZHERALD STAFF, NZPA