Northland-based Labour MP Shane Jones has predicted Hone Harawira would win a Maori Party leadership battle against Pita Sharples in a battle of "Huggy Bear" versus "Grizzly Bear".

Speculation Mr Harawira is considering a leadership challenge has heightened since his criticism of the leadership in a newspaper column and a complaint against him by the rest of his caucus over the column.

The complaint has been referred to the party's disciplinary committee after Mr Harawira's Te Tai Tokerau committee recommended it be dropped following a hui on Thursday. The committee will appoint a panel of five people and will meet in the week of February 7 to hear the complaint and recommend action, including possible suspension or expulsion.

Yesterday, Mr Jones - who intends to stand against Pita Sharples in the Tamaki Makaurau electorate - said the Maori Party executive's actions showed it was "hellbent on driving Hone from the party".

He said if it reached the point where there was a showdown between Dr Sharples and Mr Harawira, the membership would side with Mr Harawira because he was seen to be more closely connected to the grassroots.

"If you polled the Maori Party members, without a doubt Hone would trump Pita. Having said that, Pita is too important a figure to the Maori Party to have his head lopped off. For people on talkback, on the marae, in the factories, Pita is akin to Yogi Bear, a huggy bear.

"He's a figure of affection. And Hone is not Huggy Bear, he's Grizzly Bear. And that's never going to change, so who do you want to project the face of the Maori Party: Huggy Bear or Grizzly Bear?"

Under the party's constitution, the leaders are chosen at the annual conference.

Mr Jones said the party was clearly putting its coalition with National above the concerns of the Te Tai Tokerau electorate and the co-leaders were still smarting from their last attempt to discipline Mr Harawira.

He said Mr Harawira knew the dangers of standing as an independent, but also knew that under the current leadership his influence and relevance was "negligible".

"They don't want him there. Or if he is there, they want him as a neutered cat when in fact he's a wild cat. And it's akin to putting a wild cat in a cardboard box. The two don't go."

Mr Jones said the party risked being punished by their voters for the ongoing drama and their coalition with National, as NZ First was in 1999.