"Day after day, day after day, we stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean." Could this be Hone Harawira's parliamentary fate?

So the Maori Party leadership have made their move against Hone Harawira. I guess the weekend's news stories were all a bit too much - the celebrations at Waitangi were less about Te Tiriti and more about Hone and co (with a bit of "when is a koha not a koha?" friction thrown in).

But what does this move actually mean?

First, the suspension is only from the Maori Party caucus, not from the Party proper. Harawira is, at least for now, still a full party member ... it's just his 4 fellow MPs don't want him associating with them when it comes to the Party's parliamentary business.

Second, the suspension only has meaning internal to the Party caucus. As far as the rest of the House of Representatives is concerned, Harawira is still a Maori Party MP. The Maori Party can even keep casting his vote - provided he doesn't object to how they are casting it and demand the right to cast it himself, that is.

Third, the suspension means the Party will starve Harawira of oxygen in the debating chamber. They will refuse to give him any of their speaking slots during debates or any of their opportunities to ask questions of ministers. They can even pull him off his select committee duties, if they want to be completely bloody minded. So, until the suspension is lifted (or until Harawira becomes an independent MP by choice or expulsion), the Party can condemn him to a life of silent impotence in the House.

Finally, nothing has yet been said about the disciplinary hearing scheduled for next week. The assumption must be that this is going ahead, unless Te Ururoa Flavell formally withdraws his complaint. Which puts Harawira in a somewhat awkward position, as any OTT reaction to this move will provide more yet more grist to that particular mill.

So, to sum up ... by no means the last move in this particular game of political checkers. But it's a pretty big one, all the same.

Comments (16)

by Phil Lyth on February 07, 2011
Phil Lyth

don't think Harawira will find himself starved of oxygen in NZ.

If he becomes an independent, speaking slots and allocations of funding are automatically adjusted.

But before then, he may just be the one to seek the call, and so challenge the gentleman's agreement around the allocation of speaking slots & questions. That has evolved with MMP. It would be interesting to see how the Speaker would respond 'to protect Members'.

Others - Carter, Connell et al - were not inclined to challenge, but Harawira might.

As an aside, his Parliamentary profile (link above) proudly claims credit for co-authoring the Maori Party constitution.




by Andrew Geddis on February 07, 2011
Andrew Geddis

"If he becomes an independent, speaking slots and allocations of funding are automatically adjusted."

I suspect that's the message the Maori Party are sending to him ... if you want to do your thing, go and do your thing!

"As an aside, his Parliamentary profile (link above) proudly claims credit for co-authoring the Maori Party constitution."

Ha! Didn't notice that!! Nice irony in it ... or maybe he saw all this coming? Conspiracy theory starts here.

by Bruce Thorpe on February 07, 2011
Bruce Thorpe

Harawira helped form  the constitution with the full understanding of what individuals and political groupings would be working within those rules in the near future.


Nobody seems to comment on the possibility that Harawira might win the power struggle within the parrty. He almost certainly is too smart to pick up the job of leader, but he wants to set the  policies of the party.

And Turiana is his opponent. She has sent the men against him, and frankly he has made them look lightweight and ingratiating.

I doubt if she trusts the only other woman who could be won over I suspect.

So sooner or later, the kuia will face off against kuia, and the entertainment has only begun.

by stuart munro on February 08, 2011
stuart munro

Comes down to Hone having some real issues to play with here - so personality war, which might have served him poorly, is in abeyance.

Yes, the party would love him to go independent - that way he couldn't hollow out their support. But Maori are not especially natural National partners, his cleavage with the party might find him on the right side of a majority. Maybe it's not him who should be going. Damn - I liked Pita & Turiana too.

by Chris Webster on February 08, 2011
Chris Webster


Another irony - if we examine the plot (good word) of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (wikipedia says) it relates the events experienced by a mariner (now who can that be in our real-time fantasy?) who has returned from a long sea voyage - well a nation-wide hikoi.

The Mariner (Pita et al?) stops a man (Hone) who is on the way to a wedding ceremony (well a new union anyway) and begins to narrate a story (disciplinary committee hui).

The Wedding-Guest's (that's all of NZ) reactions turn from bemusement to impatience and fear to fascination as the Mariner's verbal journey progresses - some would say ad nauseum.

Hone (like Coleridge) uses narrative techniques such as personification and repetition to create either a sense of danger (Hone could have had a part in Jackson's movie); of the supernatural or of serenity, depending on the mood of each of the different parts of the poem - (which are unfolding minute by minute in our wonderful gosh, golly, what next and spun sugar fairy-land where unicorns roam - is that not your vision? :)- I wanna be a citizen there too!

Methinks the second verse is also apt:

The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din.'


by toad on February 08, 2011

Andrew, your comments about the impact of Hone's suspension from the Maori Party caucus on his ability to function in Parliament presupposes that he doesn't come to an arrangement with anotehr political party re voting and speaking in Parliament.

When Tariana Turia left Labour over the foreshore and seabed, the Greens ensured her vote was cast when she was absent from the House and gave her speaking opportunities.

Given that the substantive issue of the foreshore and seabed is at the forefront of Hone's concern with the Maori Party, and most of his other concerns  about the direction of the Government are shared by the Greens, such an arrangement may well be worked out in Hone's case too.

by Mr Magoo on February 08, 2011
Mr Magoo

And I thought that was an iron maiden song? ;)

Hone is 100% correct. However the Maori party is also right that being in government allows more to be done than out.

The trade off is how much selling out you do based on what you get back. In this the maori party leader have been (as they tend to be IMHO) extremely naive in this.

When you dance with the devil in the pale moon light...

...batman gets you. And Hone is bat man.

My only real thought on all of this is "why him?!". Or at least why could he not keep his racist tendancies in check?

Such a racially divisive figure would NOT make a great basis for a new left party. Such a crying shame to be honest.

by Andrew Geddis on February 08, 2011
Andrew Geddis


Nice reading.


Sure - if Hone becomes a full independent, his options open up a bit (as did Tariana's post-Labour). But until he does, the Maori Party are able to keep him in something of a state of purgatory. The message thus is, jump yourself or diasappear from the business of the House.

Unless, of course, he gets expelled as a result of Wednesday's hearing. But as I posted last week, there's the small matter of needing unanimity on the Party's National Council to bring that result about ... including the agreement of up-to 4 Te Tai Tokerau representatives.

by Chris Webster on February 08, 2011
Chris Webster

Andrew - ta.

toad --

... on all of this is "why him?!". Or at least why could he not keep his racist tendancies in check?

Such a racially divisive figure would NOT make a great basis for a new left party. Such a crying shame to be honest

toad - you gotta remember -- Hone the man - is a single purpose fellow -- you know the kaupapa and the genesis of the maori party - that is frequently quoted:

repeal the racist sections of the foreshore legislation -

now -- what is racist about wanting to have equal rights to go to court as do other citizens of our fair country?

have you ever suffered racism or prevented from doing something because of your ethnicity

methinks you are suffering self-identity crisis - perhaps you need to eat more carrots

failing that perhaps you would admit to be advantaged in spite of your attitude and ethnicity?

gosh - she wonders out loud - what that feels like? o


by Andrew Geddis on February 08, 2011
Andrew Geddis


You're attributing Mr Magoo's views to toad, whom I suspect would agree with you.

See what happens when you use a nom-de-web to hide your identity?

by Chris Webster on February 08, 2011
Chris Webster

Mea culpa

Le ruego me disculpe!

Sumimasen. すみません。



by Mr Magoo on February 08, 2011
Mr Magoo

Actually Chris I have - from both sides. Its one of the benefits of being a half cast and living pretty in much the entire specrum of NZ society. (From Wop wops to the city) My worst experience was in Australia (where as a kid I was in the sun a lot) so I guess NZ could have always been worse.

I am not sure what ethnicity you think I am and to be honest it does not matter.

But Hone being quoted as not wanting your daughter to bring home a white person and using the term "white mother****er" in a racist, ranting email IS what I am talking about.

It is an insult to both the cultures I descend from. And if it was not for that he would actually have my support. But this is not really the spokesperson I would choose unfortunately.

Again a shame. He has the conviction.

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