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Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
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Maori Party decision next week on TeTai Tokerau


The Maori Party will hold meetings this weekend with Te Tai Tokerau constituents before deciding on Monday whether to stand against incumbent Hone Harawira in a by-election.

NZPA
Tue, 03 May 2011

The Maori Party will hold meetings this weekend with Te Tai Tokerau constituents before deciding on Monday whether to stand against incumbent Hone Harawira in a by-election.

Mr Harawira announced he wanted a by-election to give his new Mana Party a mandate, when launching it at the weekend.

The by-election will cost about $500,000 -- just months out from a general election in November.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples today said meetings would be held in the Bay of Islands during the day on Sunday, with another in Auckland that night.

"We decided that we will talk to Te Tai Tokerau and honour their request to go and strengthen the branches up there."

Party president Pem Bird told NZPA the party would make a decision on whether to contest the by-election by Monday.

Mr Harawira left the Maori Party in February after being suspended from its caucus for criticising its relationship with the Government. Under an agreement between the two sides Mr Harawira was to serve Te Tai Tokerau as an independent.

The Maori Party argues Mr Harawira will have breached the agreement as soon as he resigns but Mr Harawira disagrees.

The agreement is open to dispute because it does not specifically state he can not contest a by-election, whether as an independent or a member of another party.

Mr Harawira said it was up to the Maori Party if they broke the agreement or not.

"I sincerely hope they don't break the agreement, I don't think it's in their best interests, I don't think it's in the best interest of Maoridom for us to be at war with one another in the Maori seats."

Mr Harawira spoke to Speaker Lockwood Smith this afternoon. A spokeswoman said the meeting went well but did not have details.

Mr Harawira this afternoon said he would go back to the people to discuss the advice from the Speaker about resigning and holding a by-election.

"I may not have a lot of time but the people mean a lot to me so I will be taking it back to them to get their views of the where, the when, the how... I am certainly planning on going to a by-election."

National yesterday ruled out contesting the by-election, while Labour hasn't yet decided. Mr Harawira said it did not matter if other parties did not stand.

"That would be great, as long as I could be returned to the House as the leader of Mana I would be more than happy with that."

The cost of the election was the price of democracy, he said, and he needed a new mandate because he no longer represented the Maori Party.

Mr Harawira would come back to Parliament with an increased salary as a party leader and would have more profile and potential to participate in leaders' debates during November's election.

Party leaders were also entitled to a leader's budget of $100,000 a year and more than $60,000 for every party MP. He would not be paid for the six month campaign.

Mr Harawira said the funds were irrelevant.

Labour leader Phil Goff said a by-election was unnecessary and a farce as the winner would only have a few weeks in Parliament before the general election.

"I told him and his campaign team (on Saturday) that the decision to run a by-election was unjustified, was stupid, was self-interested and he should think about it again. Clearly he hasn't," he said.

"The only way that I can understand his strategy is that he wants a platform, and that he wants another $50,000 in his pocket, in the pocket of his party."

NZPA
Tue, 03 May 2011
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Maori Party decision next week on TeTai Tokerau
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