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The Nation: Lisa Owen interviews Hone Harawira

On The Nation: Lisa Owen interviews Hone Harawira
Mana Party Hone Harawira has raised the idea of executing Chinese drug dealers, imprisoning them for life or deporting them, as a response to the methamphetamine problem in his area. “We can pass a law to say any Chinese that brings meth or precursors into this country is either going to jail forever, is going to be sent back and never allowed here again, is going to get executed.”
Harawira says he still doesn’t support the Maori Party’s Te Ture Whenua Bill, so he won’t ask his supporters to vote for Maori Party MPs, despite standing aside for them under the two parties’ deal.
Harawira won’t state whether he would prefer to work with National or Labour after the election, saying only “my kaupapa is Mana Maori Motuhake”.

Lisa Owen: After three years in the wilderness, the former Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira is eyeing up a political comeback. But can the Mana Party leader win again in the North? He’s with me in the studio now. It’s been a while, Hone, so let’s catch up. Where are you at? You have this alliance with the Maori Party. It was a little bit shaky there when there were problems over the Te Ture Whenua Bill – the Maori Land Bill. You wanted some changes. You were telling people that you wouldn’t endorse the Maori Party unless this bill was changed. So where are you at? Have they done enough? Are you comfortable endorsing the Maori Party?
Hone Harawira: Look, I never said I wouldn’t endorse the Maori Party unless they pulled this bill. What we have is an agreement not to stand in one another’s electorates, to give each other a free shot. We are free to criticise the policies, and that was a public statement, the agreement that we reached. And that was one of the policies that we disagreed with. We’re working on a number of things that we are supportive of, including the commission of inquiry into child abuse of those in state care – those sorts of issues. So there’s upsides and downsides to all of this.
But to be clear, didn’t you say that you couldn’t, in good faith, tell your supporters to vote for the Maori Party with the bill as it was?
Absolutely. That is also part of the kaupapa. My job is not to convince Mana Party members that they must vote for a bill that they clearly don’t like. I don’t like it. Mana members don’t like it. But that doesn’t change the kawenata that we have. But just going back to the start—
I’m still a bit confused by this. I need to clarify. So are you happy with the changes? Would you support this bill how it is?
So would you encourage your voters to vote for a party that supports this bill? Which is the Maori Party.
I can’t, in all conscience, ask Mana members to support candidates who will promote a bill like this. This is not actually the Maori Party’s bill, eh. This bill was written by Chris Finlayson and his staff. And the Maori Party – so you know – the Maori Party never actually got to see it until version five had already been written.
Doesn’t this undermine your deal, though?
So what it is is the promotion of a bill that’s not actually the Maori Party bill. Does it undermine our deal? No, it doesn’t. Our deal is a simple one – not to stand against one another, give ourselves the opportunity to win back the Maori seats to Maori parties. Not to allow Labour to take them or National or the Greens or anybody else. But to win them back to kaupapa Maori parties. And I need to be clear about that. That the bottom line of this relationship, and I value that.
But in order to do that, in some electorates – and yours is probably one of them – you’re going support from people who previously voted for the Maori Party, arguably – we can get into that. But that’s kind of what you need. And if you’re saying you can’t, in all good conscience, tell the people that support you that they should throw their weight behind the Maori Party in the electorates that they’re standing in, that does undermine your deal. Because you just kind of shot yourself in the foot there, didn’t you?
The deal says we won’t stand against one another.
No, no, taihoa. No, taihoa.
So by the letter of the agreement, you’re true to it?
And further on down in that agreement, it also says both parties shall be free to criticise one another’s policies without taking it to a personal level. And that’s exactly the way it’s rolled out.
Okay. So you don’t support the Te Ture Whenua Bill as it is; you wouldn’t vote for it; and you can’t in good conscience tell people who support you to support the Maori Party candidates who do?
I suspect that there are some policies that Mana’s going to promote that the Maori Party won’t want to support well. But that’s our choice, and that’s their choice. The kawenata – which is an agreement not to stand against one another – is being upheld 100% to this day.
Okay. Marama Fox said if you were going to not tell people to support them, they would reciprocate. Doesn’t that put you in a bit of a difficult position? Especially in Te Tai Tokerau?
Look, I’m a man of principle here, and the principle I entered into is that we wouldn’t stand in any of the electorates the Maori Party chose to stand candidates. We will stand by that. And I ask them to stand by theirs. And we leave it at that.
You need their voters. If you look at the numbers, you need their voters. And it would be better for you if you had their voters. So are you prepared to forego the seat on standing by this principle over the Ture Whenua Bill?
I think the principle is an important one for me, as the leader of the Mana Movement. I think the principle is an important one for Mana members up and down the country. I hear first what the Mana members are saying to me. And I stand by that. I stand by that not just because they are Mana members, but because it’s a principle I adhere to as well.
So are you prepared to take the risk? Are you prepared to take the risk on principle?
However, I recognise the integrity of the kawenata that we have with the Maori Party, and I’m prepared to support that from now right through till the election.
Okay. So you’ve had your disagreements with the Maori Party in the past. Everybody knows about them. So why are you back working together? What’s changed that means you can do this?
I don’t like the way that Labour’s treated its Maori MPs. I don’t like the way that Labour has treated Maori people generally. I want those seats back in Maori hands. I would rather have them in the hands of someone like Te Ururoa, who I can argue with and who I know understands exactly what it is that I’m saying, than try and argue with someone like Andrew Little, who can’t even speak Maori, doesn’t even pronounce Maori properly, treats his Maori MPs like shit, quite frankly. He’s the guy who promised Willie, ‘Come on in, Willie. I’ll put you up on the top bench,’ and then kicked him back to 21.
He reckons those Maori MPs came off the list themselves.
Hey, here’s something. When Andrew Little said, ‘My MPs came to me and said they’re fearful of being on the list,’ you know what, he was lying. He hadn’t even spoken to his Maori MPs at that point. He hadn’t even spoken to them. They took themselves off the list because he had shafted them.
Okay. I’m just curious. Did you go to the Maori Party at any point and say, ‘Hey, let’s wrap Mana and the Maori Party together for this election’? Did you ever put that on the table?
I have, ever since I left the Maori Party, had an open-door arrangement whereby if at any time Maori Party wants to come and talk to Mana about a relationship in the future, regardless of what that relationship might be, my door will always be open. Kotahitanga, the principle of unity, is more important than me, as an individual, and more important than Te Ururoa.
So did you put it to them, though? Did you say, ‘Let’s do Maori and Mana together merged into one’?
That’s been a discussion that’s been ongoing from that side to this side, this side to that side, since before I left, and continues even now. Even now, members of the Maori Party are saying to me, ‘Hone, please come back.’ But at the end of the day, bringing Mana and Maori together under the kaupapa of Mana Maori Motuhake honours the call by King Tuheitia, honours the call by Matiu Rata, honours the call by Whina Cooper and honours the call of the foreshore and seabed march, whereby the claim that Maori are better standing together than standing against one another.
Did they reject you in a formal merger, in a request to sort of merge the parties together formally?
We have never made a formal request for a merger, and the Maori Party – not to my knowledge, anyway – has ever made a formal request back this way.
Okay. I want to talk about some of the issues in your electorate.
This week, there’s been talk about the problem with methamphetamine. The police have said they’re at breaking point dealing with it. It’s one of the issues that is at the top of their problems. What do you think the solution is?
First of all, we’re going to have to get serious about this. That’s the very first thing. We can’t just keep talking about the Chinese are bring it in; we’ve got to do something about it. What are we going to do about it? Well, there’s some things we can do. We can pass a law to say any Chinese that brings meth or precursors into this country is either going to jail forever, is going to be sent back and never allowed here again, is going to get executed. We need to send a message that this is unacceptable. I mean, the English, the French, the Americans, the Australians, New Zealand all identify China as the source of methamphetamine, and yet we do nothing to try and stop it. Why? Because we’ve got a trade deal with China. But what we should be doing is sending a signal. ‘Hey, this is unacceptable practice.’
Are you seriously suggesting that we bring back capital punishment for drug crimes?
I’m seriously suggesting that if Winston wants to criticise what I’m trying to do about fighting P in the north, then him and I should get together and work out a deal that sends a signal to China that it’s not acceptable in this country.
So only China? Only China? Only execute Chinese drug dealers?
No, what I’m saying here very clearly is China is identified internationally as the greatest source of methamphetamine and precursors and cooking expertise all around the world. That being the case, we need to send a signal first there. It’s easy to then start spreading that across to everybody else. But if we don’t send that signal—
So you’d legally treat them differently to other people? Because the police also say that gangs are the big problem, so would you say that any gang members caught in that kind of trade, they could face execution?
I think even the police will admit that the gangs don’t actually do all of the meth here. It’s imported. Not even just as precursors now; more and more in bulk is coming directly from overseas. Like the one on Ninety Mile Beach.
You must appreciate, though, Hone, that people will look at that and say, ‘If you’re only going to treat Chinese drug dealers like that, that’s racist, isn’t it?’
You know that’s what’s coming.
You want to know what’s racist? Maori the bottom of New Zealand society in terms of housing, in terms of employment, in terms of education, in terms of health and in terms of justice. Now, that’s what I call racist in this country. If you want to try and stop methamphetamine, try and stop it at the source. The source of most methamphetamine importation is China. So I think we should start there. We’ve just finished having a ‘fight the P’ fight night up in Kaitaia on the weekend. We had gang members there, but we also had the local police inspector, we had a district court judge as one of the judges, we had a bishop of the Mormon church there, we had hospital administrators, we had doctors, we had all sorts of people, because we’re trying to change the way which people see P, which is that it’s not just about gangs; it’s about the whole of our society. And unless we all get together and do something about it, we’re all going to suffer from it.
So you’re saying life in prison, potential execution and—
Look, what I’m saying is somebody has to start taking this seriously. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, it’s a problem. Oh, it’s a problem. Oh, it’s a problem.’ What are we going to do about it? That’s just the point I’m trying to make.
Is this you way of working with Winston Peters?
No. This was just a response to criticism that Winston had made about what we’d done with this fight night. I think the fight night was a great idea. It’s been supported by the court. It’s been supported by the police. It’s been supported by social services.
I’m sorry to interrupt, but we’re running out of time, and I want to ask you a couple of vital things, which is you’re not going to end up in just a Mana-Maori Party government. You’re going to have to work with some other people. So are you going to be more comfortable, given what you’ve just said about Labour, are you going to be more comfortable working with Labour or National?
What’s the answer that Winston gives you on this question?
I don’t know. You tell me.
Okay. He always gives you, ‘Don’t ask me that question today. Ask me after the elections.’ So I’ll give you an answer today. I’ll be happier working with the Maori Party now and after the election. Mana Maori Motuhake. Mana Maori Motuhake.
And who else?
Mana Maori Motuhake. Let’s get past the election—
You’ve got to have more numbers than that, Hone, so who’s it going to be with?
I’ll be very clear here. The day you guys get an answer from Winston is the day I give you an answer as well. Until then, my kaupapa is Mana Maori Motuhake.
Well, let me put it this way. Te Ururoa Flavell says highly unlikely they’ll be able to work with the Labour Party, because Labour throws Maori under the bus. Do you agree with that comment?
I think Te Ururora probably needs to talk to his colleague Marama, who said she could work with the Labour Party. My view is Mana is in a relationship with the Maori Party in support of the kaupapa of Mana Maori Motuhake. That’s where we are now. That’s where we will be right up until the election. And at that point, you’ll probably get an answer from Winston, and you’ll definitely get an answer from me.
Nice to talk to you, Hone. Thanks for coming in.
Kia ora.

Transcript provided by Able. www.able.co.nz

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