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Harawira apologises - sort of

Published: 2:54PM Tuesday November 10, 2009 Source: ONE News

Hone Harawira has said sorry, but is feeling the heat again after firing off another insult in which he called for Labour leader Phil Goff to be shot.

And he's not backing off over his latest outburst, even after fronting up three times to apologise for his jaunt to Paris and the offensive email he sent to a supporter.

Goff says the maverick Maori Party MP is standing by his racist language and ripping off the taxpayer.

Harawira has apologised for his language, but says he should have just expressed the same sentiments without using words such as "white motherf....ers".

While making his partial apology, Harawira also said Goff was a "bastard" who should be "lined up against a wall and shot" for Labour's passage of the Foreshore and Seabed  Act.

Goff laughed off the comments and says Harawira has failed to address any of the issues.

"It is a silly comment. I can't take that sort of thing seriously, but what the public of New Zealand are looking for was an apology, an apology for ripping off the taxpayer, an apology for abusing people in racist and obscene language," Goff says.

"If I was to stand up in this (press) conference and talk about some ethnic group 'mother f', you would regard that as utterly unacceptable, contemptible, racist and that I should not be in this building. One law applies to all New Zealanders.

"There is no contrition there, he is proud of ripping the taxpayer off and he genuinely believes that white people are to blame for all of his problems.

Goff says there is a need for leadership from the Maori Party and Prime Minister John Key to take action as now no apology will do.

"If he apologises now that will be phoney because he actually believes that every problem he has is down somehow to Pakeha people in this country. That is simply a nonsense."

Goff says he does not think his father would appreciate him being called a bastard, but the shooting comment was stupid.

"I have been abused by better people than Hone."

Harawira told Radio Waatea that Goff was out of line for saying he should be suspended from politics.

"The cheek of the bastard. If I should be suspended for swearing, him and his mates should be. I'm saying to Phil Goff 'beware mate, beware before you start throwing stones'."

The remarks followed an apology in which Harawira said sorry for his language, but not his  message, in a controversial email sent to former Waitangi Tribunal director Buddy Mikaere.

Mikaere wrote to Harawira over his decision to leave Brussels, where he was visiting as part of a parliamentary delegation, and take his wife to Paris for the day.

Harawira responded: "White motherf...ers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit."

The Maori Party leadership, Key, and Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres are among those who have called for an apology.

But Harawira's mother, prominent activist Titewhai Harawira, says it's Goff who has got it wrong.

She says the language her son used is nothing in comparison to the division that Labour caused when it introduced a law to "steal our foreshore and seabed".

The Prime Minister says he has had enough of the name calling.

"I think I speak for all New Zealanders when I say we're all getting a bit sick of the Hone Harawera sideshow," says Key.

Harawira said sorry for his "poor choice of words" and the offence they caused. The MP for Te Tai Tokerau said he should have instead referred to what European colonisers had done.

The comments were not an attack against all Pakeha, he said, but had been taken that way.

"... and that's caused a lot of damage to my own credibility throughout the Te Tai Tokerau and throughout Aotearoa as well."

The MP says he is not a racist - "Hone doesn't hate Pakehas. Hone's part Pakeha".

"I am happy to say that my apologies are genuine. That doesn't mean to say I'm going to roll over and play dead for anybody," he says.

It is this justification that has left the race relations commissioner, Joris de Bres, unhappy. He says he hesitates to call it an apology because he doesn't think it is unequivocal or would satisfy those who have complained to the commission.

Harawira says he will stick with his party.

"I recognise there needs to be some serious bridge building on my part with my caucus colleagues," he says.

But perhaps on Tuesday he has been been burning bridges as well as mending them.