10 Nov 2009

Harawira apologises for email language

10:08 pm on 10 November 2009

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira has apologised for his "poor choice of words" in an expletive-littered email but did not back away from the sentiment expressed.

Mr Harawira says he is not leaving the Maori Party.

And in a new attack on Tuesday, in a radio interview he warned Labour Party leader Phil Goff to "beware", as he should be lined up against a wall and "shot".

The MP sent the email last week to former Waitangi Tribunal director Buddy Mikaere, about Mr Harawira's decision to opt out of an official session in Brussels in order to go to Paris with his wife on a sightseeing trip.

In the email, Mr Harawira referred to concern about the trip as "white man bulls***" and went on to say white people have been "raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bulls***".

Email 'misunderstood'

Speaking on Radio Waatea, Mr Harawira said the email has been misunderstood as an attack on all Pakeha, which has caused a lot of damage to his credibility.

"I readily apologise for the poor choice of words in that email," he said.

"I suspected if I'd said something like 'European colonisers have been responsible for the loss of more than 63 million acres of Maori land over the past 150 years and it is inappropriate that you should be holding me to standards set by people with such little regard for Maori land and Maori custom' it wouldn't have rated a mention at all in the media.

"My choice of words, however, has led to a flood of emails and accusations from all and sundry and for that I do apologise," he told Radio Waatea.

"I know that my words have caused considerable damage and unnecessary harm to (the Maori Party's) relationships with other people and with other parties."

Mr Harawira said he intends to repair his relationships with the many Pakeha he has built relationships with and worked alongside.

He said although it has been suggested to him many times that he leave the Maori Party, he will not be doing so.

Mr Harawira apologised unreservedly to women for the use of a demeaning term in the email.

Goff in sights

Meanwhile, Mr Harawira has warned Labour Party leader Phil Goff to "beware", as he should be lined up against a wall and "shot".

Mr Harawira made the comment on Radio Waatea, in reference to Labour's law change vesting the ownership of the foreshore and seabed with the Crown.

Mr Goff has called for the MP to be suspended over his expletive-riddled email.

This prompted Mr Harawira to say that if he should be suspended for swearing, then Mr Goff and his mates "should be lined up against a wall and shot".

He warned Mr Goff to "beware" before he started throwing stones.

Mr Goff says he doesn't take the comment seriously.

Mr Goff says Mr Harawira should take responsibility for his actions, and needs to stop blaming white people for his problems.

He also says Mr Harawira should apologise for ripping off taxpayers and for making obscene and racist remarks.

Move on from Hone sideshow - PM

Prime Minister John Key says he's pleased Mr Harawira has apologised for his email outburst, and he will leave it up to New Zealanders to judge the merits of that apology.

Mr Key says it's time to move on from what he calls the "Hone Harawira sideshow".

He says Mr Harawira's comments were offensive but New Zealanders are now sick of the side show.

Mr Key says there are some big things going on in New Zealand and that's where his focus is, not on the behaviour of Mr Harawira.

He says Mr Harawira's actions have not hurt the relationship between National and the Maori Party.

Harawira 'should resign'

Buddy Mikaere says if Hone Harawira is not an appropriate person to represent New Zealand in an international forum, and if he has integrity, he will resign.

He told Morning Report he did not expect Mr Harawira to apologise to him personally but hoped there would be an apology to everybody else.

Tainui chairman Tukuroirangi Morgan says there is nothing wrong with the Maori Party MP reminding the nation that there is a gap between the wellbeing of Maori and Pakeha.

He points out, though, that the world is changing, iwi are settling their claims, Maori are "a hundred miles further down the track" than they were and people like Mr Harawira now have to lead.

Political commentator and former advisor to the Maori Party, Derek Fox, believes many people in the Maori Party will agree with what Mr Harawira is saying.

200 complaints over email

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said on Tuesday he had now received 200 complaints over the remarks.

He has said Mr Harawira's email comments, though racially offensive, are not a breach of the Human Rights Act because the MP is entitled to freedom of expression.

But he says it is "utterly important" that the Maori Party takes action, and reiterates that the MP should apologise.