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Q + A: Hone Harawira interviewed by Guyon Espiner

Published: 12:18PM Sunday May 24, 2009 Source: Q + A


GUYON Well, kia ora, thank you for coming in and joining us on Q+A this morning.  Five years ago basically to the month, you were organising a hikoi protesting Labour's Seabed and Foreshore legislation, an event which essentially led to the formation of the Maori Party, tomorrow here we go again, this time over the Maori seats and the exclusion of those on the Auckland Super City, different party, same result.

 Yeah, you don't just generate a hikoi because you've got something to say, hikoi has to come about because there's a passionate desire for people to want change seriously, it's become very much a Maori form of protest these days, Maori passionately want Maori seats on the new Auckland Council, clearly there's a strong desire from right across the region for it to happen, all I did really was announce it.

GUYON Sure but you've got, I mean last time you were protesting about Labour's actions, this time the Maori Party is actually in government essentially, and it's the same result, doesn't it show that no matter what's tried they're not listening to Maori?

HONE I think what it shows is that clearly the Maori Party is an independent voice, doesn't really matter whether Labour's in power or National's in power, if we have something to say on behalf of Maori we will say it, regardless of our relationship with government, regardless of whoever's in Opposition.

GUYON That's the reason of being in government though isn't it, because you're supposed to have some influence on the party who's governing and doesn't this show that you're not?

HONE Oh certainly it is, but we have an agree to disagree policy, that's number one, number two the Maori Party is never gonna be shut up by anybody, and if Maori people want to say something and that the voice needs to be heard in the House, it's not gonna be anybody else who says it, it's gonna be us.

GUYON So what happens if you have the hikoi and you continue the consultation and the dialogue and no one listens, what do you do then?

HONE Well it was kinda like the Foreshore and Seabed actually, nobody listened then.  As a result of that we formed the Maori Party, we won four seats, we've now got five seats, we'll take the other two, we've got a Foreshore and Seabed review going on right now, we intend to get this bloody stinking act, filthy racist piece of legislation thrown out.

GUYON Are you referring to the seabed there are you?

HONE Absolutely.  It's a racist piece of legislation.

GUYON We'll talk about that soon, what are you gonna do if no one listens to you on the Maori seats?

HONE We'll keep fighting until we get them I think Guyon, regardless, and it's not a Maori Party thing too by the way, it just so happens that we've been thrown into the forefront of this debate but it's a Maori thing, and we are the parliamentary wing of Te O Maori, we are the parliamentary wing for Maori people, and so we take it into the House, but the organisation of the hikoi is being led by a lot of bright young urban Maori, and I'm really just speaking on behalf of a lot of the things that they're doing here.

GUYON Okay, I've heard Ministers including Rodney Hide say look they want Chinese representation, they want Indian representation, and Maori representation on this Super City, I mean how well understood do you think that the concept of tangatawhenua is in the general population, and even in the government?

HONE First of all, Rodney Hide talking about Chinese representation and Indian representation, is just a red herring quite frankly, he's just trying to muddy the waters.  What we're talking about here...

GUYON But that argument though - sorry to interrupt Hone - that argument does seem reasonable to many people doesn't it, that you have different ethnicities and that they should have different levels of representation on a council along with Maori.  I mean your argument presumably is well you have a tangatawhenua status, I'm just asking you how well do you think that that is understood?

HONE I don't think it is very well understood, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be pushing for it.  Now this isn't about us not supporting Pacific representation particularly, Asian or anybody else, but as the First Nation People of Aotearoa, and as the tangatawhenua, as the people who have been giving land for the settlement of Auckland for two hundred years, there's an obligation on the Crown to recognise the right of Ngati Whatua, and Tainui, and all of the hapu and iwi around this area, representation on this council.

GUYON Is it as simple as that, is it as simple as saying...

HONE It is, actually it is that simple.

GUYON Is it as simple as saying I have certain constitutional rights because I was here before you were here?

HONE No, I don't think it's certain constitutional rights, because we don't have a constitution, but...

GUYON But they are constitutional rights to have specific representation on the Auckland City Council, or to have specific Maori seats of which you hold, that is a certain constitutional right isn't it?

HONE At the moment we have Maori seats in the national parliament, that works fabulously well because now for the first time in 150 years of parliamentary democracy in this country, we actually hear what Maori people think regardless of whether Labour's in power or National's in power, we finally hear what Maori people have to say.  It's an intelligent voice and it's an independent voice and it's a very positive voice.  Now we think that if it can work at a national level it can certainly work at every other level.

GUYON And why don't you think that the National Party gets it?

HONE Quite frankly I think the National Party does get it, and that's the reason why John Key decided to buddy up with the Maori Party, I think they get it, I think that they're under pressure from rednecks and others to try and stop it, but at the end of the day I think they get it and I wouldn't be surprised if John Key goes along with it, on the basis that he went along with the flag.

GUYON Yeah but that's a symbolic thing.

HONE No no no.

GUYON This is where the rubber really hits the road isn't it?

HONE This is where the rubber really hits the road and I take a phrase from that bunch of entrepreneurs that got together the other day, that Entrepreneurial Summit, where one of them came up with a really good idea which was 'Give it a Go Bro', and all we're saying, shit it works at national level John, it could certainly work here - give it a go, and if it doesn't work he has the power to change it later.  We think it can.

GUYON You seem to be optimistic that he's going to change his mind, what gives you cause for that?

HONE Actually I'm not overly optimistic that he is one way or the other, what I am optimistic about is that the passion within Maoridom is there to make the country realise, one that this work, and two that we won't stop until people realise that it should happen, and then watch it be a positive benefit to everybody in the area.

GUYON Come back to that argument though, cos a lot of people have it, they think that why is it that we can't have representation for Asian New Zealanders, Indian New Zealanders, let's talk this through.

HONE Sure.

GUYON Let's say you're a Pakeha man...

HONE Heaven forbid.  Heaven forbid.

GUYON I would never accuse you of such a thing.  Let's take a Pakeha man, marries a Maori woman, they have a child who identifies as Maori, relationship breaks down, guy marries an Asian New Zealander.

HONE It's not a bit personal here is it?

GUYON They have a child who identifies as Asian, you're saying essentially that the first child has constitutional rights that the second child doesn't have?

HONE No.  Let's not play these stupid word games.  We are the tangatawhenua, that gives us rights according to the Treaty, we never dreamed up the Treaty somebody else did, but it gave us rights, one of them was partnership, that partnership was never meant to be just at one level or at another level, it was governance right across the country.  Now what we're saying here is that in the same way that the Maori Party's presence in the House is creating a new dynamic, and a vibrant dynamic, it can happen here for Auckland, and if we genuinely want Auckland to be the Super City alongside Sydney, New York, Paris, London, Rome and everywhere else, let's build on that dynamic, let's give Maori those seats, that's number one, and then I genuinely would love to see about give years down the track, us seriously consider how we are going to include the Pacific population at that Council as well.

GUYON Okay we talked a little bit about whether Pakeha are understanding the Maori world, let's just flip this around and see what sort of attention you pay if any to the Pakeha world view.  You said in 2004 and I quote you here - 'the only people who are going to vote me into parliament are going to be Maori, what's Pakeha think that's something that Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples are gonna have to deal with.'  Do you care what Pakeha think?

HONE I do care what Pakeha think, but I'm the MP for Tai Tokerau, I'm very realistic about my role in the party and that is to promote the Maori world view as often as I possibly can.  The day I stand for a general seat is the day I'm six feet under quite frankly.  I stand for a Maori seat, I stand for the seat of Tai Tokerau, the only people who are gonna vote me in are Maori, so I try to get strength out of understanding what it is that Maori want to achieve and then try to translate it into an environment that you and I can live with.

GUYON The Maori Party didn't stand a candidate in Mt Albert, why not?

HONE Oh, actually we're enjoying sitting on the sidelines and having a laugh at what everybody else is doing over there, making fools of themselves over the Waterview criminal bypass and a few other activities that they've got planned over there.

GUYON I guess I asked the question though because do you want Pakeha to vote for you.  If you look at your electorate results, you did very well in the seats obviously but you don't get a lot of party votes.  Do you see as part of the future of the party, Pakeha voting for the Maori Party?

HONE Oh thousands of Pakehas do, but our first obligation is to Maori.  Once we've cleaned out the whole seven seats, once we hold them all what will happen is a lot more Maori are gonna see what possible by us being in parliament, and they will flood back to the Maori seats, we will grow those seats to about ten, once we get to about ten, and once we are firmly entrenched as the independent Maori voice in parliament, we can then look to be all things to all people, but if we tried that now we would die tomorrow.  We have to be very clear, we  have to be very focused about being the Maori voice in parliament and providing an opportunity for the rest of the country to see how positive that can be.

GUYON Before I move on to some of the specific things you have and haven't achieved in parliament, can I just ask you - Trevor Mallard famously said that he was an indigenous Pakeha from Wainui O Mata, do you think that Pakeha can ever be indigenous in New Zealand?

HONE And I think Pat Hohepa said just because a cat is born in a banana box doesn't make it a banana.  I have no issues whatsoever with Trevor Mallard feeling indigenous, that's up to him, and congratulations to him, and if he's part and parcel of this culture such that he thinks that way that's great, but there can only ever be one tangatawhenua, that's Maori.  We are the bananas, he's the cat.

GUYON  I'll take your word on that.  I just want to take you through some of the things that you wanted to achieve before the election and let's see how you're going.  You wanted to take GST off food, you wanted to wipe taxes for those earning under $25,000 - you wanted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, I mean none of that's got a remote chance of happening has it?

HONE We also wanted a review on the Foreshore and Seabed Act, we also wanted to try and get the Maori flag recognised, we also wanted a constitutional review and we've got all of them.

GUYON So you think you're doing alright?

HONE No, we could be doing a hell of a lot better, but in terms of where things are at, and the fact that in 150 years there's never ever been an independent Maori Party in the House.  I think we're doing okay, you know it's only six months, six months on after 150 years of nothing - we're not doing too badly.

GUYON I'll come back to some of the achievements, I just want to run through some of the other things that you were looking at doing.  You essentially wanted to ban tobacco, you were talking about a referendum, a royal commission, legislation, where have you got to on that issue?

HONE I'm talking with members of the National Party and members of the Labour Party now about the possibility of bringing that bill into the House, the bill's been drafted, I don't really want to bring it in if it's gonna get tossed out at first reading, so still working on that, and it's not about stopping smokers, it's about stopping tobacco companies coming in here and making billions of dollars out of killing New Zealanders, white ones and brown ones.

GUYON Is there any realistic chance that you can do that though?

HONE It's gonna be kinda difficult given that government's trying to get their hands on every dollar they can and they drag in a billion dollars out of tax, unfortunately while they've taken a billion dollars four and a half thousand New Zealanders are being killed every year.  I think ultimately good sense is going to prevail there and I will win, not because I am right but because the kaupapa is right.

GUYON Tazers - you bitterly oppose those, we've  just heard this morning that the government's gonna spend ten million dollars rolling out tazers and the Police Association wants a tazer in the hands of every cop in the country, is that a good thing?

HONE Did you see that cop that they tazered on TV?  He was screaming, and when he fell down he landed on a mat.  Now just imagine if they did it right here, fall on the side of that he'd crack his head open, he'd probably die.  Now is that a good thing?  You put it into the hands of every Police Officer in New Zealand and you know what a crap bunch some of them can be, do you really want to put that in the hands of people who are going to use it as standover on different populations?  It just so happens to be that those other populations are going to be Maori and Pacific Islander.

GUYON So you see that as a race issue - tazers?

HONE Well no, not so much as a race issue but I think it's certainly an issue about torture, and I think it's an issue about trying to deal at that end of the problem instead of back at this end.  If you want to deal with crime, you deal with the causes of crime, you deal with poverty, you deal with the opportunities that people don't have and you create avenues for the whole country to move beyond what we are at the moment.

GUYON Another thing you wanted to do just a couple of weeks ago was be part of a delegation that went to Fiji to help sort those problems out, are you still going to go to Fiji?

HONE I should have gone straight away it's been bloody freezing over here ever since.  I'm not quite sure, that's being put together by the President of the Party in negotiation with others.

GUYON That's on the back burner now is it?

HONE Oh no, no no.

GUYON Are you still gonna go?

HONE It's not on the back burner at all, but I probably will just wait to see what's gonna happen before making a decision on whether to go or not.  My own view is once announced we should have just gone.

GUYON But will you still go?

HONE Oh it depends, looks like it might happen and if it does and I'm invited to go I probably will.

GUYON You talked about that constitutional review that you've secured with the support agreement, what do you hope to come out of that?

HONE Well we don't have a constitution in this country, and I'd like to see come out of it a constitution, that's gonna take ten years, at least ten years, then everybody in the country's gonna want to participate, but I want to see in there clearly the status of the Treaty protected once and for all, not in this bit of legislation, but not this this this and the other thing, but that the Treaty is protected and adhered to by all level of governance in this country, that's really what I want to see achieved, and I think it's very easy to do.  I think all it takes is a bit of courage, a bit of vision and a bit of positivity.

GUYON You said earlier - I mean the main thrust for the Maori Party has been though on the repeal of the Seabed and Foreshore, you called it racist legislation at the top of this interview.

HONE Absolutely, filthy racist piece of legislation, I'll tell you why.  If this is a hundred percent of the foreshore and seabed in this country, this much of it here is owned by private New Zealanders, the Foreshore and Seabed only applies to this bit here, the bits that Maori are after, so it's a racist piece of legislation, it doesn't apply to the whole of the foreshore and seabed, only the bits that Maoris want, racist piece of legislation, it's gotta go.

GUYON And what are you hoping to achieve out of this review, I mean have you got a replacement?

HONE I think at the moment the numbers in terms of the review going all round the country talking to Maori and Pakeha is 90% for repeal, 8% for partial repeal, 2% don't repeal, so it's to repeal.  The trick is what we put in its place and that's gonna be the big issue and we're gonna be running a series of wananga before legislation comes into the House, to try and identify if we got rid of this what would we rather have, so that we go to the next stage in terms of legislation with a more positive view that's going to - one, guarantee that title to Maori - two, make it inalienable so we can't ever sell it, so it's not about profit for Maori, and three, so it guarantees access to all New Zealanders.  Those are the three issues really, and I think that we can all live with that one Guyon.

GUYON Just a couple of things before we go, we sometimes hear rumours that you're going to leave the Maori Party over some issue or not.  Can you guarantee that you're gonna see the term out as a Maori Party MP?

HONE Na, I can't guarantee that I'm gonna see the term out, just like you can't guarantee that you're not gonna get run when you leave here today.

GUYON But you've got no plans to actually leave.

HONE No, I have no plans to leave, comfortable where I am, comfortable representing the people of Tai Tokerau, comfortable being a member of the Maori Party, comfortable being able to honestly say that we are the independent voice for Maori, that we are the parliamentary wing of Te O Maori.

GUYON Would you like to lead the party one day?

HONE Ah no, because leadership of the party requires a measure of diplomacy and tact I simply don't have the talent for.

GUYON Good place to leave it, kia ora, thanks for coming in and joining us this morning.



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  • daved said on 2012-11-04 @ 11:01 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Saddly enough we seem to be really living in another world not the real New Zealand. We are good at farming and the industries relating to this industry. We need to become the best in the word instead of focusing on 1.5 million people who live in Auckland and their housing problems. Be proud we are different to countries like China and America. Our inovation relating to farming and horicuture is sort by the world. We are inovative, clever and pioneers. Not apprieciate so we leave!!

  • 4awinner said on 2012-05-27 @ 09:47 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Retirement. Crazy raising the age! Why because this means more unemployment for the new generation. What is a better investment giving young people the dole or retiries a pension. Pension recievers do not ushally cost the country in crime and all the othe social woes that sucks this cuontry dry. BECAUSE young people NEED a job and future. We have 4 children in Australia all doing very well. The wages give them hope for the future which New Zealand could not but they still love this country.

  • Yady said on 2011-11-28 @ 09:41 NZDT: Report abusive post

    the country is full of complacent morons who love to complain but dont get of there arse to vote.... cant beleive where this country is headed, where just like the yanks, maybe worse because we think we are better than them....shame shame shame..... who can blame us for moving to aussie... the nz government is for the nz rich list, they dont care about the poor..... shame shame shame..... and the media should be held accountable.... they done this... i want to hear the tea tapes!

  • Yady said on 2011-11-28 @ 09:35 NZDT: Report abusive post

    those who didn't vote should be ashamed of themselves.... this country is full of moaning couch potatoes..... just what national needed... shame shame shame....

  • cheekychick said on 2011-11-27 @ 10:03 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Michelle Boag calling Winston names is disgusting and offensive Jan

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