Series Classification: G (General Programmes)
From the frontline of protests to the corridors of Parliament - Former Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira reflects on a lifetime of service to Māori.
“Not for one second” – Hone Harawira has no regrets over leaving the Māori Party and using the term “white motherf*****” as he reflects on his career in politics to Mantangireia presenter Maiki Sherman.
*The views expressed in this interview are the honestly held opinion of Hone Harawera
Hone Harawira is a straight shooter – he calls it like he sees it.
It’s a roughshod approach that’s worked for him and for which he makes no apology.
From frontline protests across the country to the leather-lined seats of the debating chamber at Parliament, Hone Harawira has been an unwavering voice for change.
“We were really bulletproof… we could not be told we were wrong.”
As a young man he led several protests including against the Springbok Tour with the Patu Squad.
“We got offside with a lot of people including a lot of our own people…but in those days there was a demand for change.
“We were fighting apartheid but also using it as an opportunity to strike a blow against racism here in this country and that’s what it was for a lot of us. Our apartheid, our racism was right here at home,” he said.
Domestic protest against the Labour government in 2004 would lead Hone Harawira on a pathway to Parliament.
The Foreshore and Seabed debate gave birth to the Māori Party and Mr Harawira would win the Te Tai Tokerau electorate seat at the following general election.
So, how was protest any different to politics? And what of the very public split from the Māori Party?
“It was activism that was driving my career as an MP – my love for kaupapa Māori and for my colleagues – but I remained an activist,” he said.
He remembers the Māori Party’s first years in parliament fondly.
“They were great years, they were absolutely great years.”
A confidence and supply deal with National at the next election would spell an end to that.
“The parting of the ways came because I felt that we were becoming a little too close to the National Party,” he said.
“We needed our people to see that we can have a relationship with anybody…and I was starting to see too much influence from National in the decisions that we were making. ”After growing tension and division within the caucus, Hone Harawira left the Māori Party with no regret.
“No, not for one second. I think it was necessary, I think it was necessary for the Māori Party and I certainly think it was necessary for me,” he said.
Having returned to Parliament under his newly formed Mana Movement – he recalled the “strained” relationship with his former colleagues.
“We never sent each other ugly texts or emails or that but you know, the Māori way of letting someone know you're really pissed off with them is just to give them the cold shoulder.”
One ugly email, however, did feature significantly in Hone Harawira’s career – in which he referred to Pākehā as “white motherfuckers”.
It wasn’t the first time his colourful language landed him in hot water – but again, he has no regrets, and explains it was a strategy to draw media attention to the issues of his choice.
“You understand what your soundbite time is, you focus your attention on capturing the public attention with that soundbite.
“Believe me, if every one of those words was a polite word, chances are they may not notice.
"But when I used to speak the way I used to speak, absolutely guaranteed it would be leading the six o'clock news that night,” he said.
Mr Harawira also spoke of his mother, Māori matriarch and former protest figure herself – Titewhai Harawira – who can be seen accompanying Prime Minister’s onto Waitangi each year.
He said she had always been supportive of her children, recalling his mother’s response to a school report card given to one of his sisters.
“The teacher hadn’t been that complementary about how my sister was going at school and my mum had written something in there which always reminded me that’s how she raised us.
"She wrote back to the teacher to say, ‘be thankful for the opportunity to teach one of the best children you’ll ever meet’.
“That’s how mum used to treat us… she was always there for us, always supporting us in whatever it was we were doing.”
Made with the support of NZ On Air
About the Presenters
Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Maniapoto
Mihingarangi Forbes is an award-winning broadcaster who is known for her fearless brand of journalism, never shying away from asking the tough questions and tackling the big issues.
As the Māori Affairs reporter for One News in the late 90s Forbes spent much of her time at Parliament reporting on Māori politics. During that time she reported extensively on the fortunes of NZ First and their clean sweep of the māori electorates in 1996.
Today Forbes hosts three’s current affairs programme The Hui where she regularly interviews politicians from various parties. In 2020 Forbes won Best Presenter News and Current Affairs at the New Zealand TV Awards.
Ngāpuhi, Te Whakatōhea
Maiki Sherman is an award-winning senior political reporter for TVNZ’s 1news. She’s also the deputy chairperson of Parliament’s press gallery. Having worked across three television networks including Māori Television, Three, and TVNZ, Sherman has developed a reputation for breaking stories and courageous reporting.
During her career Sherman has covered several general elections, the rise and fall of the Māori Party, Sir John Key’s National government, Hone Harawira’s failed merger with the Internet Party and the ascension of Jacinda Ardern.
In 2014 she showcased her presenting skills when she shared co-hosting duties with Mihingarangi Forbes for Māori Television’s election night coverage.Sherman is a kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa alumni and a graduate of Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo, the invitation only academy for excellence in te reo Māori.
Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pūkenga, Te Arawa
Scott Campbell is a former press gallery reporter, communications specialist and political commentator. During his time in the gallery Campbell was known for his fair but firm style of journalism.
He began his television career in 2004 under Three’s editor Stephen Parker before being appointed deputy editor in 2010. Campbell was based in the press gallery during the controversial seabed and foreshore legislation which saw 20,000 Māori march on Parliament. He reported on the rise of the Māori Party under the co-leadership of Dame Tariana Turia and Sir Pita Sharples. He also covered Don Brash’s tenure as leader of the National Party.
Campbell left the press gallery in 2010 and is now the chief executive of Campbell Squared, a communications company based in Tauranga. He is a regular commentator for RNZ, The Hui, Newshub Nation and other media outlets.
About the production team
Annabelle Lee-Mather, Producer/Director
Annabelle Lee-Mather (Ngaai Tahu/Ngaati Kahungunu) is an award-winning journalist with 18-years experience in broadcasting. She served as an EP on RNZ’s NZ Wars series. As well as producing The Hui for Three, Annabelle is the series creator and co-producer of The Casketeers.
In 2020 Annabelle was named Editorial Executive of the year at the Voyager Media Awards.
Mihingaarangi Forbes, Producer/Director
Mihingaarangi Forbes (Ngaati Paoa /Ngaati Maniapoto) Mihingaarangi is an award-winning investigative journalist and the presenter of weekly current affairs series The Hui on Three. She began her career in the 90s as a rookie reporter at Te Karere. Since then she’s worked across a range of channels and mediums, with roles on Campbell Live, 20/20, Native Affairs, and as Māori correspondent for RNZ. In 2020 Mihingaarangi was named Best Presenter News and Current Affairs at the NZTV Awards.
Wena Harawira, Executive Producer
Journalist Wena Harawira has a career that spans 4 decades. Harawira was just 19 years old when she became the first wahine to work on TVNZ’s fledgling Māori news service Te Karere alongside the legendary Whai Ngata.
She went on to become the Executive Producer of news and current affairs at Māori Television where she now leads the newsroom.
Having worked in nearly every aspect of the Māori media industry, Harawira is much admired not only for her leadership and journalism but also for the many reporters she has mentored and inspired.
in 2017 Harawira was honoured with Te Tohu a Tanara Whairiri Kitawhiti Ngata for lifetime achievement at Ngā Kupu Ora awards.
About Aotearoa Media Collective
AMC is a boutique Māori production house that specialises in indigenous storytelling and content. Founded in 2019, by journalists Mihingaarangi Forbes and Annabelle Lee-Mather AMC has created NZ Wars: Stories of Waitara (RNZ) and The Hui (Three) with Great Southern Television as well as independently producing Matangireia (RNZ) and Coastwatchers: Operation Pacific (TVNZ).