To make peace with Hone or not to make peace with Hone?
That is the question confronting the Maori party that Hone Harawira, a firebrand former Member of Parliament helped to form in 2004. The former M.P. was made to leave the Maori Party in 2009 after e-mails surfaced about his attitude to private spending out of the public purse, and following electoral defeat, left Parliament completely. Three years later has Mr Harawira learnt from his experiences being defeated and made to leave a party he helped to found?
During his time in politics Mr Harawira has earned a reputation pushing a separatist platform, blaming non-Maori for the social ills of Maori. He was combative in Parliament and in public. Although he earned a bit of respect for being willing to criticize the Maori Party for blindly behaving like a National-Party puppet, his focus, like their’s has tended to be on settling Treaty of Waitangi grievances. Neither have addressed the socio-economic ills that make Maori feature disproportionately highly in crime, poverty, truancy and unemployment rates.
I believe that Mr Harawira is finished in New Zealand politics. His divisiveness, inability to control his dislike for non-Maori and advocating for a separatist agenda that would have been hugely damaging for New Zealand was one of the primary reasons for Internet-Mana being defeated in the 2014 election. The behaviour of his mother at Waitangi Day commemorations and extended family, especially his nephews, who often skirmished with police helped to damage the Harawira brand as a political force. The ill fated and ill conceived alliance with a fledgling party whose line up of washed up politicians and candidates with no name recognition divided the left leaning vote at a time when unity was essential.
However, whilst I have no desire to see Internet Party, Mana Party or Internet-Mana if that is what they still are, back in Parliament, I acknowledge that I am but one voter. Thousands on the left were taken by their promises to be friendly to internet users at a time when there was considerable concern about corporate deals being fleshed out that would have severely impacted on copyright.
It also has to be acknowledged that Mr Harawira was one of only a few Members of Parliament who would happily come to join a picket line advocating better conditions; one of the few to recognize the catastrophe that is the recently passed Maori land use Bill in Parliament. He had a bill drawn from the Ballot in Parliament that was going provide for free lunches to children in schools. The Bill as yet has not been read in Parliament, but it had up to 70% support.
But will the colourful former Member of Parliament from Te Tai Tokerau comply with any deal struck with the Maori Party? And more specifically do New Zealand voters want him back?
On 23 September 2017, we shall find out.