17 Dec 2013

Harawira defends trip to South Africa

9:12 am on 17 December 2013

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says his trip to South Africa to pay his respects to Nelson Mandela was a success.

Mr Harawira has been forced to defend the trip after Prime Minister John Key labelled it a "jolly".

Hone Harawira.

Hone Harawira. Photo: RNZ

The Mana leader on Monday returned from his trip to farewell the former South African president and pay his respects on behalf of all those who have marched against apartheid. His trip was paid for out of the Leader's Fund.

Mr Key said the Mana leader should not have billed the taxpayer for the trip to South Africa, and that the official delegation represented the right mix.

Mr Harawira said that after he was refused a place in that delegation, he applied to the Speaker's Office to get permission to use his leader's budget to attend the funeral as a member of Parliament.

"The parameters for that are quite clear, that the visit has to have a parliamentary purpose. Clearly it did because it was to attend the same activities that the prime minister attended. The speaker approved the funding, and so I went. Clearly, there aren't issues about process."

Mr Harawira told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme he attended a major memorial service in Soweto, a smaller private service at the home of Nelson Mandela's family and while there he did a haka and his wife a karanga mate to honour Mr Mandela. He also said he met church leaders and anti-apartheid campaigners from around the world.

He said he and his wife Hilda farewelled Mr Mandela on behalf of all Maori and all those involved in the anti-apartheid protests.