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Hone Harawira on The Nation


Interviewed by DUNCAN GARNER

Duncan Hone Harawira is launching his new political party this weekend and the new party signals the end of any truce between him and the Maori Party. Both have a deal not to stand against each other but now he says it may be time to call off the false war and get it on. Hone Harawira is with me, good morning tena koe.

Hone Kia ora Duncan.

Duncan I've looked at some of the letters you’ve sent unionists over the past few days where you say the Mana Party is determined to be the voice of the majority of ordinary Maori, and to give a choice to the excluded. First and foremost, Mana Party, that’s what you're calling it isn't it?

Hone I think regardless of the name of the party it's time to restore the mana of the children of the poor, of beneficiaries, and of low wage workers, and the people in this society who prop it up. It's time to restore the mana to Maori who are simply defending their rights to their lands, their forests, and the fisheries.

Duncan You keep using the word mana there, Mana is the name?

Hone Yeah mana's very much part and parcel of who it is we are, not just as Maori but as a nation, and we want to be in a position to help New Zealand to recognise that mana in all of us.

Duncan You talk about in your letter to unionists this week that it's quote "a staunch party that will put the needs of Maori and non Maori ahead of the already rich". This is not just a Maori party, is that what you're saying this is sort of almost a class war party?

Hone Certainly if we had to make a choice we wouldn’t be working with National. National have already chosen their Maori party, we have no interest in joining them.

Duncan So is it the second Maori party or is it a ….

Hone We'd be open to working with the Greens and we'd be open to working with Labour. In terms of a second Maori party, we will certainly be the second Maori political force in this country, likely to be the first one by the time we get to the election in November, but open to all races colours and creeds to ensure that the disenfranchised in our society actually get a real voice.

Duncan I want to look at you're open to all races and creeds and so forth. You’ve got Sue Bradford speaking at your launch. Is she going to be a candidate for you guys?

Hone I think John Minto's gonna be there, I think Nandor Tanchos is gonna be there.

Duncan I'll get to them in a minute, first Sue Bradford.

Hone I think importantly I'm an activist, I have a long activist history, a lot of activist friends. I'm really proud that they're there to support what it is that we're doing today.

Duncan And have you asked them to be candidates.

Hone I'm happy to say that the selection process will be something that will be left up to a process that is not just for me to determine, okay, but I'm proud to have alongside people like that, doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, those involved in doing what it takes to lift the status of those most vulnerable in our society. That’s what it's all about.

Duncan Have you asked Sue Bradford, Matt McCarten and John Minto to stand for your party, or are they there supporters and backroom people?

Hone At the end of the day that’s a process that everybody has to go through. The only two people that I can say that I have approached directly are Matt McCarten who's agreed to be the interim chair of the working group for the party, and Annette Sykes who I would dearly love to have alongside me in the House.

Duncan Has Annette Sykes agreed to stand? First of all I'll take it that Bradford and Minto and McCarten haven’t agreed to stand yet?

Hone You could also take it that I may not have even asked them that. What I've told you is that I have asked Annette and I have asked Matt.

Duncan And what's Annette said about standing, Annette Sykes?

Hone Annette said she'd be happy to consider it and we'll probably hear her answer later on today at the party launch.

Duncan And she would be potentially number two on your party list and stand in Waiariki which is against the Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell. Would that make sense?

Hone Ha ha ha. Look you know Annette as well as I do. She'd make a great leader of this party. This isn't about me being the leader, this is about the kaupapa leading the party. This is about the people in this country recognising in this party a beacon in a time of desperate straits for a lot of Maori, Pacific Islanders and Pakeha.

Duncan Are you comfortable with someone like Annette Sykes being so involved, I mean remember what she said around the time of 9/11 where she laughed and effectively applauded and clapped when those planes went into the towers on 9/11? I mean are you comfortable being a party in parliament having someone like that there?

Hone I'm comfortable having alongside me one of the strongest Maori women I have ever met, one of the strongest women I have ever met, a person who's courageous in all that she's done, who has defended those that all other lawyers have walked away from, and who is fearless in her dealings with government, with Iwi leaders, and with all levels of society. I have great respect for Annette Sykes.

Duncan I want to move to this truce that you have with the Maori Party. They won’t stand against you in Te Tai Tokorau, and you won’t stand against them. Is it off?

Hone It's kinda getting that way given that I know that they have approached already half a dozen people in Te Tai Tokorau. I mean a couple of them have publicly announced that they have been approached and have declined, so I'm doing my best to hold to that agreement because…

Duncan No no, you’ve been around the country picking up candidates, looking at potential candidates, asking for support from people.

Hone No no, I have been around the country to gauge the level of support for a new political movement.

Duncan But you'd be happy to stand against them?

Hone That support is huge…

Duncan Would you be happy to stand against the Maori Party?

Hone I have not asked one individual apart from Annette Sykes to consider standing for this new political movement that I'm hoping to lead.

Duncan But would you be happy to stand against the Maori Party? There is this truce, do you believe it's off?

Hone Okay, know this. I think that if the Maori Party did their best to hold their seats to survive and allowed us to target the party vote we could effectively both go back in with a collection of eight seats. Now that’s the best option. The other option is that we end up in a fight and I don’t want to see us go down that way and neither does Maoridom.

Duncan What about the suggestion in the past of the 48 hours that you may well force or announce a bi-election in your seat before the election.

Hone Where does the suggestion come from?

Duncan I'm just coming from around the Beehive, but potentially your former party.

Hone Yes I understand that the Maori Party is playing up that story. Look that hasn’t been on our agenda at all, although we discount no possibilities in the run up to the election in November.

Duncan A couple of things, you say you're a workers' party. Looking at some of your information you stand for wealth taxes, financial transaction taxes, asset taxes. Just quickly what does your party stand for in that sense?

Hone Well if we had the opportunity to introduce one initiative economically it would probably be the Hone Heke tax. Take out GST completely, introduce the 1% financial transaction tax, thereby enabling poor people to have cheaper food, cheaper fuel, cheaper electricity and the ability to rebuild their lives.

Duncan So targeting those people with money.

Hone And helping those people without.

Duncan Just finally I just want to talk to you about you know later in the year just heading into the election, we have a Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and your mother has already suggested that perhaps that could be targeted by activists and protests. Do you rule out potentially disrupting and protesting around the Rugby World Cup from you new movement?

Hone I love my mum.

Duncan And?

Hone And that’s not currently part of our plans at all.

Duncan Would you consider it though?

Hone Ahh, unlikely, unlikely. Our focus is on lifting the status of those most vulnerable in society rather than targeting something that the government is wasting 500 million dollars on.

Duncan And just in terms of you know trying to make progress you have a Labour Party and a National Party that have ruled you out, I mean arguably you're completely ineffectual aren’t you because no one wants to work with you.

Hone Look I'm always keen to work with the Greens, and I think given the number of Labour MPs who've said that they'd be more than happy to work with me, I think Phil Goff is realistic enough to know that after the election everybody rings everybody else depending on the numbers, and I'm open to that.

Duncan Right, kia ora Hone, thank you very much for joining us in the studio today.

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