4 Feb 2011

No plot to oust Harawira - Maori Party president

5:36 pm on 4 February 2011

Maori Party president Pem Bird says there is no plot within the party to oust Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira.

Mr Harawira's electorate committee says the party leaders are hell-bent on getting rid of him, through the party's formal disciplinary process.

But Mr Bird says there is no predetermined outcome to the process and no conspiracy to expel Mr Harawira.

He says a complaint against Mr Harawira by Te Ururoa Flavell MP could still be resolved by the two men if they meet again in person.

Mr Flavell, the Maori Party whip, laid a complaint following comments Mr Harawira made in a newspaper article in which he said voters were abandoning the party because it was coming off the rails and getting too close to the National Government.

Mr Bird says if a disciplinary hearing, set down for next Wednesday does go ahead, one of the advisers will be esteemed Nga Puhi elder Patu Hohepa and the process will be scrupulously fair.

Mr Harawira says his chances of being thrown out of the Maori Party are very slim.

He told Morning Report that if the party's leaders chose to expel him, they would be ignoring the wishes of all the people of his Te Tai Tokerau electorate, where he enjoys huge support.

Mr Harawira said the complaint has been handled very badly so far and needs to be resolved quickly and behind close doors.

Complaint 'political smokescreen'

Nga Puhi kuia Titewhai Harawira says the formal complaint made against her son is nothing but a political smokescreen.

Mrs Harawira told Morning Report that party co-leader Tariana Turia is letting the complaint simmer by not dealing with it before Waitangi Day.

She said Mrs Turia is hoping the situation will implode at Waitangi this weekend so she will have a reason to criticise Mr Harawira.

Mrs Harawira said the complaint is a side issue and the party should get on with its purpose in Parliament.

Anger hui called off

Nga Puhi kaumatua say they are profoundly offended that a hui in Auckland to discuss a complaint against Mr Harawira was called off at the last minute.

Te Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell, who laid the complaint after Mr Harawira criticised the party's direction, says he never committed to being at the Auckland hui.

But Te Tai Tokerau officials say that's not their understanding and the way the complaint is being handled could cause the party to self-destruct.