28 Oct 2010

Harawira happy to remain in Maori Party

7:15 am on 28 October 2010

The Maori Party's outspoken MP, Hone Harawira, says he can remain in the party, despite his opposition to legislation replacing the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

The party has removed Mr Harawira from the select committee hearings on the Marine and Coastal Areas Bill, and replaced him with party's whip Te Ururoa Flavell, who supports the legislation.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says it is up to Mr Harawira whether he remains a member of the party.

Mr Harawira says he is happy to be a member of the Maori Party, saying the party has an ability to cope with different views.

"In the same way that Maori are made up of many tribes, so too is the Maori Party made up of many different points of view," he says.

Mr Harawira says he is comfortable with the decision to remove him from the select committee while it considers the bill.

The Maori Party says he will continue to sit on the committee while other subjects are being considered, such as its inquiry into the tobacco industry.

Maori Party deeply divided - Labour

The Labour Party says the Maori Party's decision to remove Mr Harawira from the select committee hearings shows the party is deeply divided.

Labour leader Phil Goff says the split in the Maori Party over the legislation goes right through the party's membership. He says its Wellington branch has warned it could destroy the party.

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide says removing Mr Harawira from the hearings shows the bill is in trouble and the Maori Party is stacking the committee so its report back to Parliament is favourable.

The Green Party believes Mr Harawira should have his say in the select committee process.

Coastal lobby group opposes bill

A lobby group opposing the Marine and Coastal Areas Bill has placed half-page advertisements in the Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin daily newspapers against the legislation.

The ads placed by the group Coastal Coalition say the Prime Minister is about to trade 2000km of coastline for Maori Party votes, and urges action to avoid New Zealand democracy reverting to a tribal aristocracy.

The group is led by former Act MP Muriel Newman and the secretary of the Council of Outdoor Outdoor Recreation Associations, Hugh Barr.

Dr Barr says iwi owners will be able to establish marine farms, mining, and other major developments without public interest safeguards, and to force implementation of their coastal plans on local and central government.