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Column by Hone Harawira - Ae Marika!

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

To Go Or Not to Go …

Tai Tokerau is the best place in the world to live, and the Tai Tokerau electorate has got the wildest bunch of voters in the country, and if you’d been up at Aniwaniwa the other week you would’ve seen just how wild they can get when somebody from outta town tells them they have to meet and come up with a plan, then tells them their plan ain’t worth diddly-squat because somebody else got their own plan!!!

Anyway, as a result of some major screw-ups on my part and some rather astonishing statements from my party’s leadership, I have spent the last ten days meeting with kaumatua, kuia and others from all over Tai Tokerau to see what they think about the charges made about me – bad language, missing meetings, hard to control etc, and the request from the party leadership that I consider leaving the party and becoming an Independent!

The meetings have been really well attended and thankfully I have been able to just sit and listen for the most part, which can be difficult for a politician, but which I have found very, very fruitful. Most people don’t know the full story, but they do understand instinctively what the real issues are, and they have very strong views about them.

Much of the korero has been very passionate, sometimes fiery and sometimes right over the top, but within it all there have been some real gems, and some very humbling commitments from people I would not normally expect to see at a Maori Party hui.

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Over the past two weeks I have also received hundreds of emails, texts, phone calls, letters and comments off the street, ranging from “f*** you n***r” right across to “go harder bro’” and all points in between. One that did hit home though came from a pakeha guy who said to me that he’d been a neighbour of Maori Marsden’s, Maori had always treated everybody well, and that if I really did hold Maori in high esteem, perhaps I should start acting more like him …

I have taken the opportunity to spend time with people whose political advice I have always treasured, and others, both Maori and Pakeha, whose counsel I seek whenever I need a wake-up.

And I have also been able to read a lot of the commentaries on the debate which has quietened down a bit but ain’t over yet, and gotten a better insight into just how helpful or damaging the media can be.

I got a ways to go before I can get back on my horse, and a lot of ground to cover to rebuild broken alliances, but these are the times when you really see who your friends are, and I am especially grateful to my wife Hilda who gave up a trip to Rarotonga to help me through all this, a support crew to die for, the best electorate in the country, and personal support from all round the country that is still coming in as I write this.


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