There’s Something About Hone

by Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

I quite like Hone Harawira, and I honestly didn’t expect to when he entered Parliament in 2005. I tarred him with the antics of his mother, but was pleasantly surprised. His ability to engage with and advocate for his constituency, his ‘call a spade a spade’ attitude, and his ability to cut through the crap that politics tends to generate would generally make him a successful politician.

And this week he doesn’t fail to disappoint.

First,  he went off on a Richard Worth camel ride trip to Paris instead of attending official meetings in Brussels, then he responded to an email questioning his actions in less than poetic language. This has really got under the skin of Stuff.co.nz commentors, who are almost unanimously calling on him to be sacked. The Prime Minister has called Harawira’s comments “deeply offensive”, while Tarina Turia has waded into the fold claiming that Harawira’s actions were damaging to the Maori Party’s reputation.

Now, the trip to Paris wasn’t a great idea (worth noting that Labour MP Rajen Prasad stated at the time “what goes on tour, stays on tour”, while Harawira went right ahead and outed the trip in his own newsletter), and an MP responding to correspondence from a member of the public with abuse isn’t a good look. But the thing is, Harawira doesn’t need to appeal to commentors on Stuff.co.nz. Or John Key. Or even Tariana Turia. Harawira has to appeal to the voters in the Te Tai Tokorau electorate. As Harawira said, his own people will judge him – he’s a straight shooter, doesn’t hide a thing, and I think his constituents respect him immensely for that.

Brendan Burns has blogged that Hone looks likely to go. As much as Labour would like to see the Maori Party cull their most effective highest profile MP, I don’t think it’s very likely. Harawira has a huge majority in his electorate – 32% over Labour’s Kelvin Davis – while Labour won the Party Vote. While Turia and Shapples are bullshiting about their “mana enhancing relationship” with John Key and Rodney Hide, Harawira is saying it how it is, and because of that, I’d say he’s staying right where he is.

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On a related note, I’m informed that Hone turned up to Sue Bradford’s valedictory, but sat in the public gallery wearing a Hawaiian shirt. You got to hand it to him – the man’s got style.

[EDIT: Oh snap, Jake]

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