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Hone Harawira's Ae Marika!

Ae Marika!
A column published in the Northland Age
By Hone Harawira
MP for Tai Tokerau
MANA Leader

02 August 2011

In my early years with the Maori Party, I was often asked to tour the country using my own special brand of activism and inspiration to pump up the crowds and bring out the voters. When we hooked up with National though, it quickly became clear that my views were no longer appreciated by my party leaders, and I was politely told not to go touring anymore - that "we will talk to our people from now on thank you".

Now that I am the leader of MANA though, I'm free to fly and it's been great hookin' up with friends and comrades I'd lost touch with over the last 3 years. Last week I was down Whanganui (Tariana's heartland) where I addressed a really big crowd, many of whom were disillusioned Maori Party voters who still wanted a strong and independent Maori voice in parliament.

Anyway, when I went out to the airport in the dark hours of the following morning, one of the Maori Party stalwarts came in after me. He'd spotted my flags in town, followed me out, and we had a really good catch up about a whole lot of things. I won't mention his name in case he get's in trouble for talking to me, but in a cold and lonely place, friendship goes a long way to warming up the soul. Chur bo!

Mind you, going to all these meetings round the place and having people say "you da man" ain't exactly good for your focus, but coming home to the north reminds me that reality lives just round the corner, that poverty is just a cancelled dole cheque away, and that life sometimes just don't seem that appealing for a young man whose only connection with the good life is what he sees on TV.

And I guess that's what made Te Ururoa Flavell's comments last week about burying kids who commit suicide outside their urupä sound so dumb, because instead of finding out what leads kids to such despair and addressing the causes, all he did was condemn the poor dead kids and reawaken the ache of the already broken hearts of the whanau.

I'm back in the house today, and hopefully after I finish what I started two weeks ago the Speaker will let me take my seat in parliament. It's not often I say something like this, but I was actually grateful for the comments of most political commentators who rightly noted that given the chance, most New Zealanders would want their MPs to swear allegiance to their voters before they swore allegiance to the Queen of England. I understand that the Maori Party wants to change it to allow for an oath to the Treaty - which makes Tariana's criticism of me pushing it, sound hollow and mean-spirited. Sad really ...


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