19 Jan 2011

Maori Party accused of trying to stymie Harawira

8:00 pm on 19 January 2011

MP Hone Harawira is accusing the Maori Party of trying to stymie his influence in his own electorate.

Maori Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell has laid a formal complaint against the Te Tai Tokerau MP following a newspaper article by Mr Harawira criticising the party's support of the National-led Government.

Party co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia, as well as the MP Rahui Katene, support the complaint.

Mr Harawira says his comments in the Sunday Star-Times are not new; he has made them to his party and publicly over several years and they are merely a reflection of what he hears on a daily basis in his electorate and echoes views held widely within the party.

Mr Harawira says the Maori Party should be bold enough to deal with the comments, rather than try to shut down dissent.

The MP told Checkpoint on Wednesday he is wary of the leaders' claims they want the issue resolved, because they went public with the complaint before speaking to him about it.

He says he did not know about the complaint until Wednesday morning, and believes he has been ambushed by the party.

Mr Harawira says they are trying to stop him from representing the feelings of his electorate, crush dissent on the foreshore and seabed legislation, and demand all Maori MPs nod when the leaders speak.

Legal advice sought

The Maori Party is seeking legal advice from constitutional lawyer Mai Chen, who says Mr Harawira could be thrown out of the party if it finds he has not acted in its best interest.

Ms Chen says the party hopes the issue will be resolved at a private hui at Te Tai Tokerau on Friday but if not, it will be referred to its national council disciplinary committee.

The party has gone to great lengths to be fair and follow due process, she says.

The Maori Party has five seats in Parliament.