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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

MP hopes apology will end internal exile

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says the apology delivered this morning was his own initiative and not demanded by the party.

Mr Harawira says the comments he made in an email to former Waitangi Tribunal director Buddy Mikaere were senseless and undermined the credibility and goodwill the Maori Party has built up a good deal its first four years in Parliament.

He also apologised to young Maori for the bad example he set and to any others, particularly women, who were offended.

The MP, who has spent the past two weeks holding meetings in his Taitokerau electorate, says the apology followed a session with the Maori Party caucus.

“Actually I haven’t been rapped over the knuckles at all. The apology was something I offered to do because I felt the pain they’d gone through. Never really felt it until we met last night to talk about it, but I’m comfortable with the statement I made at Parliament this morning,” Mr Harawira says.

He will remain with the party but he won't return to Parliamentary duties until the new year.


And if you hear a lot more reo from Hone Harawira, it may be because he's heeding the advice of his kaumatua.

Radio Waatea host Kingi Taurua interviewed the MP in Maori today on his three weeks in the political wilderness.

He says the abusive language contained in the email exchange with Maori party member Buddy Mikaere turned out to be a bigger source of concern that Mr Harawira's unauthorised trip to Paris.

“What the old people were saying to him is he’s got to watch his language from now on, especially the swearing. If he wants to swear, then don’t swear in English but swear in Maori because there’s only one swear word in Maori an that’s pokokohua and if he gets angry use that word, if he gets angry, ever never swear in English but try to use the Maori language,” Mr Taurua says,

The Ngapuhi kaumatua says many of Mr Harawira's supporters in the north are still angry at him and will pressure him to behave in future.


Researchers from Te Wananga o Raukawa are warning Maori could soon lose longfin eels as a traditional source of kai.

Caleb Royal says an urgent moratorium on commercial eeling is needed if the iconic species is to survive, and in the longer terms streams and rivers need to be cleaned up.

He says before commercial eeling began in the 1960, eels were a plentiful source of food, but what's caught now are mostly juvenile, skinny and diseased.

“For Ngati Raukawa, our iwi were known for the tuna we would put on the table It was a reflection of mana. It’s more than just kai for Maori katoa. It’s huge, the importance of tuna,” Mr Royal says.

Manaaki Tuna, which also includes environmental groups like Forest and Bird and Greenpeace, has an online petition calling for an immediate stop to commercial eeling.


Maori Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell says the party's caucus is still tight despite an enforced stand down for Hone Harawira.

The Taitokerau MP apologised this morning to the party, young Maori and all New Zealanders who may have been offended by the language and sentiments contained in an email sent to former Waitangi Tribunal director Buddy Mikaere.

Mr Flavell says the party has accepted the apology, and it will work on ways to manage the renegade MP.

“We've had renegades in our whakapapa ever since Maui Tikitiki so that’s not a problem. What we do have to do is have some internal disciplines. We’ll be working amongst ourselves and with our council to have those place, We don’t envisage this sort of thing happening again, and if it does you can be sure we will be a lot wiser and a lot clearer about what needs to be done to address it,” Mr Flavell says.


Former National Party leader Don Brash is blaming the abolition of youth wages for high Maori youth unemployment.

Dr Brash's 2025 Taskforce report released yesterday called for youth wages to be reinstated as part of a wide-ranging plan to catch up with Australia.

He says the number of unemployed 15 to 19 year olds has jumped because employers have to pay an inexperienced worker the same as an adult.

“We're getting a lot of anecdotes that 15, 16, 17 year olds simply cannot get jobs and it’s especially true if they are not very well educated. I suspect there are a lot of Maori kids in their late teens who simply cannot get jobs right now. Why would an employer choose someone with no work experience if he can get an adult for the same wage. He won't,” Dr Brash says.

The Taskforce believes it is important for young people coming out of school or polytech get work rather than spend two or three years on the dole.


A Maori representative on the new National Health Board will be pushing a whanau ora approach.

The board, announced today by health minister Tony Ryall, is supposed to provide clinical leadership and supervise the $10 billion in public health funding which goes to district health boards.

Maori members include Hauora Taranaki PHO chief executive Hayden Wano and Ngati Hine Health Trust chief executive Rob Cooper.

Mr Wano says he's been part of the move by iwi into healthcare, and he supports moves by associate health minister Tariana Turia to encourage cooperation between health and social services.

“I support that broader approach to health and if that drives a different way of delivering care then I’m very much support of it,” Mr Wano says.

He will personally look at issues around Maori access to health and the level of care they get.


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