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Ae Marika! - a column By Hone Harawira

Ae Marika!
A column published in the Northland Age
By Hone Harawira
MP for Tai Tokerau
17 November 2009

They say a week in politics is a long time, and they’re right. Last week I made a public apology about an email I’d written.

Firstly, I readily apologise for the poor choice of words. I suspect that if I’d said something like: “European colonisers have been responsible for the loss of more than 63 million acres of Maori land over the past 150 years, and it is inappropriate that you should be holding me to standards set by people with such little regard for Maori custom” it wouldn’t have rated a mention at all in the media. My choice of words however has led to a flood of emails and accusations from all and sundry, and for that I do apologise.

I apologise to the PARTY because the Party has done many wonderful things to advance Maori aspirations, and I know that my words have caused considerable damage and unnecessary harm to our relationships with other people and with other parties.

I apologise to WOMEN for the use of a word very demeaning to them.

I note also that my comments have been misunderstood as an attack against all PAKEHA, and that has caused a lot of damage to my own credibility in the Tai Tokerau, and throughout Aotearoa as well, and I need to say a few words on that score.

Over the past 25 years in particular, I have put a lot of effort into what I call Phase Two of Maori activism. Phase One is protest action, and I return often to that philosophy to help guide my thinking. Phase Two is building alternatives, and since returning to Kaitaia, I have put a lot of energy into helping Maori to believe that they can do anything – through the Aniwaniwa Kokiri, the Aupouri Maori Trust Board, the Far North Rugby League, Te Hiku Media, and of course, Te Rangi Aniwaniwa.

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Much of that work meant building close working relationships with many businesses in the far north and throughout the Tai Tokerau. I know that those relationships have been strained by my comments I know that I have work to do to repair and rebuild those relationships, and I intend to do so.

I stand by my comments about the importance that my wife plays in my life but I am not surprised that the media has chosen to completely ignore those comments in favour of highlighting the more sensational first 10 words.

Last weekend, I met with the party president and co vice-presidents and took on board some very good advice about how best to deal with controversial emails, and I intend to follow that advice.

I recognise that there needs to be some serious bridge building on my part with my caucus colleagues, and I will be doing so over the next weeks.

Although it has been suggested to me on numerous occasions that I should consider doing so, I am not leaving the Maori Party. Our strength is in numbers and our commitment to a common goal, and I will be taking up a request from the Party President to draft a plan to help the party and the caucus move positively into the future.

And finally, my thanks for all the support I have received from all round the country over the past few days, and the support the people of Tai Tokerau have always shown me and Hilda in the past. I intend to continue to do whatever it takes to justify that support.

Things have moved on and moved on fast. Whatever happens, I’m glad this statement is going out.

ENDS

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