20 Jan 2011

Maori Party gains made as part of Government - PM

3:19 pm on 20 January 2011

Prime Minister John Key says Hone Harawira should ask himself if the Maori Party would have gained as much for Maori if it were not part of the Government.

The MP for Te Tai Tokerau is in trouble after writing a newspaper article criticising the Maori Party's close alignment with the Government and its support for the Marine and Coastal Areas Bill.

Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell MP has filed a complaint with its national council, with the backing of the three other MPs.

Mr Key says Mr Harawira's colleagues have clearly taken a dim view of his actions.

He says he would suggest to Mr Harawira that being in a formal arrangement with National has seen much greater gains for Maori than if the Maori Party had been a voice in opposition.

Proper process - Sharples

Co-leader Pita Sharples says the Maori Party is following a proper process with the complaint about Mr Harawira.

The party has called for an emergency hui in Mr Harawira's electorate to try to resolve the dispute.

Dr Sharples told Summer Noelle on Thursday that he does not want to comment on the complaint until after the hui on Friday.

Independent role not ruled out

Mr Harawira says he is not ruling out standing as an independent before the next election.

The MP he has the support of his electorate and is not certain what it would take for him to strike out on his own.

Ngati Kahu chair Margaret Mutu says Maori are concerned the party has lost its direction.

Dr Mutu says there is support for Mr Harawira, but fears for the party.