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Harawira quits Maori Party

Published: 3:10PM Wednesday February 23, 2011 Source: ONE News

Hone Harawira has left the Maori Party and says he will contest the general election as either an independent or a member of a new political movement.

The party's national council was today expected to endorse a disciplinary committee recommendation to expel Harawira.

He was already suspended from the party's parliamentary caucus because of his outspoken criticism of its relationship with the government which he says is passing anti-Maori legislation.

Harawira's colleague Te Ururoa Flavell laid a formal complaint and after weeks of delays and numerous hui, the party's disciplinary committee said yesterday there did not appear to be any way of resolving the complaint besides cancelling Harawira's membership.

"Following discussions yesterday with close advisors as well as with the leadership of the Maori Party, I can announce that it is my intention to continue to serve the Tai Tokerau as an independent MP, and that I will contest the 2011 elections as either an independent or as a member of a new political movement in Aotearoa," Harawira said in a statement today.

He said he had advised the leadership of the party that he will is not contest any of the other Maori seats at the election and he understands the Maori Party has agreed not to stand a candidate against him either.

He would get the Maori Party to cast his votes in the house when he was absent.

"I am extremely disappointed at the decision of the Maori Party President, to release the recommendations of the Disputes Committee to the media before putting them before the National Council," Harawira said.

"His actions have undermined the credibility of the process, and the genuine attempts to reach a positive resolution to the current impasse, but in spite of all that, the framework for a positive future has been reached."

He said he didn't lead the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed March to parliament that gave birth to the Maori Party, to see it destroyed by infighting five years later, "and I understand the vital importance of putting the problems of the past few weeks behind us so that we can all move on."

Harawira said: "I am comfortable with the view that we have come to a point where we can all agree that it is best for me and the party to go our separate ways, and to focus on the issues that are crippling Maori people, and indeed Pasifika and Pakeha people living in poverty throughout this country.

"I also agree that in the best interests of advancing our people's future, we focus on the issues rather than the personalities, and that we not speak disparagingly of one another."