Te Tai Tokerau electorate officials have issued a strong challenge to the Maori Party executive after a meeting in Northland to discuss a complaint against their MP Hone Harawira.
The hui of at least 100 people at Whakapara, north of Whangarei, on Thursday strongly endorsed Mr Harawira. Officials issued a statement rejecting the complaint made by party whip Te Ururoa Flavell as a baseless insult.
Mr Flavell has complained about a newspaper article Mr Harawira wrote, saying voters were abandoning the Maori Party because it was coming off the rails and getting too close to the National Government.
Electorate chairperson Lisa McNabb says members support everything Mr Harawira said and want him to continue speaking out.
"We are of the belief that a select few within the Maori Party hierarchy are trying to silence what our people believe in. We have received overwhelming messages of support for Hone.
"The message has been resolute - Hone speaks the truth and the truth should not be silenced."
Ms McNabb called on the party's national council to dismiss Mr Flavell's complaint immediately and find a way to restore peace in the party.
"We are insulted that the Maori Party executive believe that they can undermine the integrity of the electorate with the largest Maori Party membership in the country.
"The complaint itself is without basis and issues raised by Hone are the views of Maori within the electorate."
Ms McNabb said money raised to support the party should not be spent on lawyers in a bid to oust an MP who was being faithful to the party's kaupapa, or objective.
She said the lawyers should be dismissed and the $25,000 reportedly paid to them handed back.
In what may be viewed as a serious challenge to the Maori Party executive, the hui instructed Mr Harawira to talk to Maori throughout New Zealand about the concerns he has raised about the direction of the party.
Mr Harawira told the hui he would not be shut down by the leadership - to loud applause.
Neither Mr Flavell nor Maori Party president Pem Bird attended the hui, after they said they were not invited. However, Mr Bird says the complaint may have to be seen to the party's disciplinary committee if it can not be resolved at local level.