Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia was sickened by what she called "psychological abuse" meted out to her and others by MP Hone Harawira's mother and sister at a hui yesterday.

Mrs Turia said the entire meeting, at Waitangi's Te Tii Marae, was disrupted from 10am to 2pm.

"It was just terrible. It was the whole hui. It wasn't just two minutes. It was shouting, abusing, swearing, singing loud over the top of people."

She said Mr Harawira's mother, Titewhai, "kept shouting at me that I was a liar ... bloody liar ... snakes".

"Nobody could shut them up. They just shouted and denigrated people the whole way through the hui."

Mrs Harawira and daughter Hinewhare also tried to intimidate people by saying they had written down the names of those present.

"It was nothing short of being psychologically abusive and violent," said Mrs Turia. "I've never seen anything like it, to be honest. I felt sick."

In 1998, Mrs Turia was at Te Tii with Helen Clark when Mrs Harawira reduced the then Labour leader to tears over her being allowed to speak.

It had hurt Nga Puhi to think a future prime minister could not feel safe at their marae.

The Waitangi hui and another in Glen Eden last night were called to discuss what the Maori Party should do in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate now that Mr Harawira has left the party, taking with him many personal supporters in the North.

He has formed the left-wing Mana Party with other social justice activists and announced his intention to quit Parliament to force a byelection.

Mrs Turia said the sentiment at yesterday's hui was that people wanted to re-establish the Maori Party branch structure in the North and to stand a candidate.

Party will stand against Hone Harawira

Maori Party president Pem Bird told Radio New Zealand meetings in the electorate last night resolved the party will stand a candidate against Hone Harawira should he call a by-election.

Mr Bird said the party has got "word on the ground" there is sufficient support in the electorate for the party to win the seat.

"There is a silent majority who have kept quiet and we take heart from that," he said. "We are not going into the by-election to come second."

Mr bird acknowledged Mr Harawira has the support of young people in Te Tai Tokerau, but the Maori Party would target voters middle-aged and older.

"That is our core constituent. Young people don't vote.

"We know we've got some work to do and we'll do that work."

The decision signals a likely end to a shaky agreement between the two sides that neither would stand candidates against the other.

There was also an agreement that neither would criticise the other, and the Maori Party says Mr Harawira has breached that by repeatedly insulting its leaders.

Mr Bird said it was up to the Mana Party whether it wanted to contest the other Maori electorates (all held by the Maori Party). "We are prepared for any eventuality."

Mrs Turia said she believed the behaviour of Titewhai and Hinewhare Harawira showed they were nervous about Hone's chances.

"Otherwise why would you come to a hui that wasn't your hui, threaten people who were attending by writing their names down and being rude and abusive?"

Mrs Turia said she felt very sorry for Nga Puhi. "I've gone to marae all over the North and they are respectful people."

One woman was very distressed because she had brought her grandchildren back with her to her home marae for the hui.

Before it, she had told them it was "their special place" but had then had to send them outside so they couldn't hear what was going on.

Mrs Turia had sent her own granddaughter outside, too.

"I kept thinking as it was going on [that] here we are, trying to bring about a transformation in our families, amongst our people to do with violence and abuse, and here we were sitting with ... the worst form of psychological abuse during a marae hui."

She said Mrs Harawira was a kuia, "and where I come from we hold our kuia in the highest regard".

"We had kuia who travelled with us to be there and I felt really sad for them that another kuia would behave like that - even if it was on her marae.

"The mana of your marae resides in those of you who belong and I wouldn't have thought that was mana-enhancing behaviour at all."

- with NZ Herald staff