24 Nov 2009

Come back, Hone, all is (almost) forgiven - Sharples

10:11 pm on 24 November 2009

The Maori Party leadership has given its strongest hint yet that errant MP Hone Harawira will be taken back into the fold - but only on certain conditions.

Mr Harawira's political future came under a cloud after he admitted absconding to Paris to sightsee while on an official trip to Brussels, and then used obscene language in an email defending his absence.

Party co-leader Pita Sharples now says that it is likely Mr Harawira will stay with the Maori Party but that, as a minimum, he would need to apologise to the country for his behaviour and comments.

The member for Te Tai Tokerau was given a fortnight to consider the party's request for him to become an independent MP, and the fortnight is almost up.

"Quite clearly he's said that he wants to stay," Dr Sharples said on Tuesday.

"In fact, he was never pushed out. There was a suggestion that if he wants to stand only for Te Tai Tokerau, and keeps saying that, he might like to consider it, so that we can hold him to standing for New Zealand and the party."

Set of conditions - including apology - likely

Dr Sharples says there is likely to be a set of conditions around Mr Harawira's return to the party, including an apology to New Zealand for his statements and behaviour.

He is not ruling out the possibility that the MP will be temporarily suspended from the party caucus, but says the caucus needs his expertise.

He says members of Mr Harawira's iwi are holding more meetings this week and the party hopes to meet with them soon after.

Mr Harawira wouldn't comment on his future on Tuesday but has repeatedly said he doesn't want to leave the Maori Party.