Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hone Flies Again

There's a huge fuss on at the moment about Maori Party MP Hone Harawira. He's been suspended from the party caucus and there's apparently a process that will decide if he will be expelled from the party. The mainstream media are baying for blood, the NZ Herald editorial "Maori Party should cut Harawira loose" while the Gisborne Herald printed a letter saying "Harawira not keeping to Maori values"

Fifteen months ago there was another big fuss over intemperate and allegedly racist language from Hone Harawira. At the time I said
"Hone Harawira is quite safe, as long as his support remains a lot less than theirs, Sharples and Turia won't touch him as they need him, or someone so like him to make no difference appeal to the minority segment of Maoridom he holds for the party. They'll make tut-tutting noises, but they are both to clever to alienate him or his electorate."

I'm going to make the same prediction today. This is an election year, like all parties, the Maori party, need to attract as much attention as they can and they need to reconnect with their electorate. After two years in the governing coalition the poorer among in society, including the poorer among the Maori, are feeling disadvantaged and they need to feel that continuing to support the Maori Party is in their best interests. The middle class Maori electorate can see that the Maori party has delivered for them, but this has been a hard two years for the working class and unemployed.

What does Hone say about all this? In his blog on the issue he says
"I know I don’t have all the answers. I know my colleagues have just as much to offer as I do, but I also know that our people are crying out for us to reconnect with them, with their lives, with their situations and with their hopes and dreams."
You're right there Hone, your party needs you to connect with the Maori radicals and keep their vote for your party and your party needs you, or someone like you, to raise your party's public image. Meanwhile Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia will continue to connect with their parts of the Maori Electorate. Every time you and they have robust discussion in public you get press and TV coverage that the other small parties aren't getting and you raise your party's public profile.

Finally I'd like you to consider that Hone's mother was a founder member of protest Ngā Tamatoa in the early 1970s and has been a Maori activist since at least that long ago. Hone has been an activist since at least 1979 and says "When people refuse to do what's right, at the end of the day you step in, do what you've got to do." He wasn't some unknown, the Maori Party selected him as a candidate knowing full well what he believes and what he stands for. It would be hypocritical of them to turn around and say that he doesn't fit in the party he helped bring into government.

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