28 Jan 2011

Maori Party seeks meeting between MPs

8:22 pm on 28 January 2011

The Maori Party says it wants two of its MPs to talk through their differences face-to-face before a disciplinary and disputes committee hearing in February.

The committee met for the first time on Friday to consider a complaint from party whip Te Ururoa Flavell against Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira.

Mr Flavell laid the complaint which relates to critical comments made in a newspaper article by Mr Harawira about his party's support relationship with the National Government.

Following a hui on Thursday, Mr Harawira's Te Tai Tokerau electorate committee recommended that the complaint be dismissed.

The Maori Party says it wants Mr Harawira and Mr Flavell to meet and talk through their differences before the disciplinary hearing on 9 February.

Committee chairperson Te Orohi Paul told Checkpoint they plan to resolve the matter next month and is asking Mr Harawira and Mr Flavell to consider not bringing legal representatives.

Mr Paul says it is too late for another local hui, as offered by Mr Harawira's electorate committee, to find a solution.

Maori Party president Pem Bird says any further action will then be up to the council.

Meanwhile, Mr Harawira's electorate committee has issued a statement saying that it in its view, the complaint was resolved at a hui in Northland on Thursday by the finding there was no substance to it.

However, the committee says it is mindful of concerns raised in general terms by Mr Flavell and has invited him to meet with them to discuss those matters.

'Critical juncture'

Following the hui, a four-hour teleconference was held by the national council on Thursday night.

The hui recommended that Mr Harawira be directed to go on a nation-wide tour to gauge what members think of his views.

The national council says none of the recommendations are aimed at resolving the complaint.

It says the complaint can not be resolved at the electorate level and will be dealt with by the national council.

Maori Party president Pem Bird told Morning Report on Friday that the teleconference reached a critical juncture in the party's decision-making process.

Mr Bird says a disciplinary committee hearing will be held in early February. He says a five-member panel will be selected, with one person independent of the party.

The hearing will be held in during the week starting 7 February.

Hasty decision, says Harawira

Mr Harawira told Morning Report this decision has been hasty and his electorate was doing its best to resolve the dispute in a proper manner.

The MP says he has the full support of his electorate and party, but it was clear that the National Party's interests are best-served by having a docile and quiet coalition partner.

The hui also recommended that the party's legal adviser on the matter, Mai Chen, be dismissed. The Maori Party is reported to have allocated $25,000 for her services.

Nga Puhi elder Hone Sadler says Mr Harawira has the electorate's full support.

Dispute a shambles - Jackson

Maori political commentator Willie Jackson says the dispute is a shambles and told Morning Report it looks like the groups are talking past each other, with the party ignoring the local electorate.

Mr Jackson said it seems a nonsense that Ms Chen has been brought in to look at the process, by-passing many Maori lawyers who could have been used.

He said it seemed the party has forgotten about tikanga Maori processes and embraced tikanga Pakeha.