An Interview With Hone Harawira - Candidate
30 January 2005 Press Release - Te Hiku Branch
HONE HARAWIRA - MAORI PARTY CANDIDATE FOR THE TAI TOKERAU MAORI SEAT
At 7.15pm on Saturday 29 January 2005, at the Kaikohe Memorial Hall, in the presence of Tariana Turia, leader of the MAORI PARTY, and party members from throughout the region, Hone Harawira was confirmed “overwhelmingly” as the MAORI PARTY candidate to contest the Tai Tokerau Maori Seat in this years general election.
This interview was conducted with him the following day in his office in Kaitaia.
HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER BEING CONFIRMED AS THE CANDIDATE?
“Happy, grateful, sad, scared, excited, humble and proud.
I’m happy for everyone in my branch. They put a lot of effort into this, and it’s all paid off. I’m grateful to my wife and my whanau for their total support. Sad, because I know the way of life I love is about to change forever. A little bit scared because mainstream politics is a visit into the unknown for me, but nowhere near as scared as I suspect Dover is at the moment. I’m excited with the challenge. It’s time to do the business, and I believe I have the skills, the temperament, and the courage to do it. Humble in the knowledge that a lot of people have put their faith in me to make a difference, and humble to be standing alongside Tariana and Peter. But mostly I’m proud. Proud to be representing the thousands of MAORI PARTY members in the north, and proud to carry their hopes and dreams into parliament later on in the year.
WHAT DO YOU THINK LABOUR’S RESPONSE TO YOUR NOMINATION WILL BE?
Labour will spend heaps to try to save the Maori vote, because they know that if they lose the Maori seats they lose power, and this crowd has shown that power means far more to them than the principles they talk about.
But the Hikoi showed that Maori people have opened their eyes, and want to see a different world. Maori are angry that Labour betrayed them over the foreshore and seabed, and that the Labour leadership didn’t even ask the Maori MPs before announcing that the crown would be assuming absolute ownership over the foreshore and seabed. What that said to Maori was that Labour treats their Maori MP’s like monkeys – nice for public performances, but not to be taken seriously. So it’s a little embarrassing listening to Dover trying to say what a good deal it is when he wasn’t even asked for his opinion in the first place.
Regardless of the money that Labour throws at the campaign, I believe Maori will judge them on their honour, and they will fall accordingly.
I think that the Labour Maori MP’s campaigns will be written by Party President Mike Williams because I don’t think he trusts Dover and Co to say the right things. That sounds kind of insulting but up until they shut John Tamihere down, he was the only one that Labour trusted to speak for himself. None of the others was allowed anywhere near the press.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time you saw a Maori MP talk about anything important?
Dover was overheard saying that he intends digging the dirt to try to keep me from taking his seat. That’s sad really. I felt genuinely sorry for the way in which he was hounded by the media and then castrated by Labour when his past record was dredged up a few years back, and I would have hoped that we could make this a campaign based on the issues rather than on personalities. Dover has already begun his dirty tricks campaign. I implore him to reconsider.
Labour will get dirty. if they can do it to Dover, they will certainly do it to anyone else.
HOW CAN YOU FIGHT WHEN YOU HAVEN’T EVEN GOT POLICIES YET?
We’re still working through our policies at the moment. It’s not easy because we have to balance the huge expectation that our people have for us, with the reality of writing policies that can stand the test of the Labour Party flamethrower.
But importantly, our policies are being written with our people’s well-being as the main priority. Labour writes their Maori policy as an afterthought.
WHAT POLICY AREAS ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Broadcasting obviously – that’s my working background, and Maori radio and now Maori television are major players in the promotion of Maori language and culture.
But also health and education. A healthy body and a healthy mind are the basis of a healthy people. Healthy people are positive people, and positive people are good for the community. I know it sounds a little simplistic, but it’s true, and it’s what I want to focus attention on.
The threat of closure of Kaitaia Hospital is a classic example. Labour favours central control, and the health of the whole community in the far north is being made to suffer because of it.
A government that doesn’t see health as a priority is a government that is on it’s way out.
WHAT ABOUT THE CRITICISM THAT THE MAORI PARTY SIMPLY DOESN’T HAVE THE NUMBERS TO BE A GOVERNMENT IN IT’S OWN RIGHT, AND SO CAN’T PUSH IT’S POLICIES THROUGH ANYWAY.
Labour doesn’t have the numbers either. Coalition is the order of the day and negotiation is a necessary element of any MMP government. The difference for Maori will be that the MAORI PARTY will be able to negotiate from a position of principle and clarity. Labour’s Maori MP’s have never had that privilege, and the current Labour government has shown it has no respect for their views.
WHAT ABOUT THE INTIMIDATION ALLEGED ABOUT YOUR CAMPAIGN?
Storm in a teacup really. The TEHIKU Branch actually nominated me last year, and had been working on my campaign ever since. Some of the other candidates who did not have the backing of their branches were simply overwhelmed by the strength of my campaign team. I was profiled in 15 different spots on national television and radio in the week leading up to the campaign itself, and the team had a signwritten bus, pamphlets, posters, signboards and t-shirts.
More importantly though, by the end of the campaign, the candidates were working really well with one another. I appreciated the different strands and strengths they all brought to the campaign, and I look forward to working with them and their supporters to build a winning team here in the north.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Now the real work begins.
There is a huge groundswell of support for the Party in Taitokerau, but we don’t have the time to sit back on our laurels. We will have a meeting after Waitangi to put in place a campaign team, and then we’ll be out on the roads, getting new voters to register, signing up Party members and organising the funding necessary to win the north.
GOING TO WAITANGI?
Yes I am. I hope to join those marching there from throughout the north to oppose the loss of foreshore and seabed. I look forward to being part of activities there.