1 Dec 2009

Maori Party meet over Harawira's political future

2:33 pm on 1 December 2009

Maori Party MPs are meeting on Tuesday in a bid to settle Hone Harawira's immediate political future.

Mr Harawira, the MP for Te Tai Tokerau, has been under fire for skipping a day of a 12-day taxpayer-funded trip in Europe to go sightseeing in Paris with his wife and later writing an abusive email defending his actions.

Maori Party leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia suggested two weeks ago that Mr Harawira should become an independent MP, saying his actions had damaged the party.

At a hui in Whangarei at the weekend, the party deferred any decision about Mr Harawira, and left it to the parliamentary wing to settle.

Radio New Zealand's political staff say the meeting is due to start in Wellington on Tuesday afternoon and could go late into the night as MPs seek to resolve the crisis.

Meanwhile, in his weekly newspaper column Mr Harawira paid tribute to Hawea Vercoe, the Rotorua school principal and regional councillor killed outside a bar in Whakatane in November.

Mr Harawira says Mr Vercoe was bold and courageous where many Maori leaders aspire to the corporate style of conformist leadership.

He also paid tribute to Northland matriarch Janie Marsden, saying she was a staunch member of the Anglican Church but never flinched at criticising if she saw something that could be done better.