Hone should not say sorry for being candid

Having heard a heap of stuff about Hone Harawira and his vituperative e-mail to Buddy Mikaere, Alf reckons it would be daft for the Maori Party hell-raiser to apologise to the nation for comments he made about white people.

According to the NZ Herald, he will have something to say today about the row in which he has embroiled himself thanks to his flair for (a) troughing and (b) spewing racist bile.

It will be the first time the Te Tai Tokerau MP has publicly spoken about an email, criticised as racist, that he sent to a party supporter who had asked him who paid for a trip the MP and his wife made to Paris.

No other Maori Party MPs are expected to be present at Waipapa Marae in Auckland. However, Mr Harawira may be supported by high-ranking party leaders.

But Alf sees no point in Hone apologising for saying what he thinks of pakeha if – as seems pretty obvious – that’s what he does think of them. Or for using bad language if he thinks it’s good language or effective language.

We should be grateful for his candour. Even though the contentious remarks were made in a private e-mail, he did invite its recipient to hand it over to news media, so he must have reckoned on his racist views becoming the stuff of a public row.

If those are his sentiments, and that’s the sort of language he employs, then he has done us a favour by being forthright. The buggers who should apologise are those who buckle to political correctness, suppress their opinions and thus falsely portray themselves.

Above all, Hone has not built his political reputation by championing good language or racial harmony in the same way that Rodney Hide built his reputation as a perk-buster.

Likewise, it would be silly for the Maori Party to expel an MP who clearly articulates the promotion of Maori interests.

Lest anyone be unaware of what Hone has been up to, the Herald reminds us –

The email controversy started when he responded to party supporter Buddy Mikaere, who asked him about the trip to Paris the couple took while Mr Harawira was on a parliamentary visit to Brussels.

Mr Harawira asked Mr Mikaere if he was buying into “that white man bullshit” and added that “white motherf***ers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries”.

Because Labour leader Phil Goff has some A grade troughers in his own party, his capacity to criticise the Maori Party MP is somewhat limited.

He says Hone’s actions could not be easily dismissed but is focusing on the salty language, not the trip to Paris when Hone was supposed to be earning his keep in Brussels.

“I think if he was a member of the Labour Party, for making such an offensive comment with racist overtones, he wouldn’t still be in our caucus.”

He said the comments were “purely racist”.

“He was excusing his conduct by blaming it on white people. He could apologise for it, but would it have any meaning if that’s what he really believes? And I think it is what he really believes, that every problem he has is caused by white people. Well, it is not about that – it’s owning up to the fact that he stuffed up, that he took time off when he was paid by the taxpayer to be at a meeting he was leading.”

Mr Goff said it was up to the Maori Party to decide Mr Harawira’s fate.

“But if somebody was using vile racist abuse in the Labour Party to excuse their own actions, that wouldn’t be acceptable and that person would not be in the Labour caucus.”

It’s worth recalling that Hone’s co-leader, Tariana Turia, was embroiled in a row several years ago when she compared the experience of Maoris under British colonisation to that of Jews in the Holocaust.

The story was quickly beamed around the world. London’s Telegraph reported –

Tariana Turia, a Maori and associate minister of Maori affairs, also disclosed that she talked to a ancestral spirit and took its advice.

Politicians condemned her and callers swamped radio stations, but her remarks seemed to strike a chord with many Maoris.

Last week she was rebuked by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister, after she tried to censor official statistics showing child abuse figures to be much higher among Maoris than the rest of the population. At the time Mrs Turia blamed the abuse on the effects of colonisation.

In her latest speech she suggested that Maoris were suffering from “post-colonial traumatic stress disorder”.

She said: “What seems to have not received similar attention is the Holocaust suffered by indigenous people including Maoris as a result of colonial contact and behaviour.” She referred to public concern about violent crime, saying she could not understand why society was outraged by “home invasions” but not about the “homelands invasions” of colonisation.

In her speech, to the annual conference of the New Zealand Psychological Society, she said:

“What if I told you I have been visited a number of times by my kai tiaki [spiritual guardian] and had carried out a conversation? What if I said to you that my kai tiaki had cautioned me about a particular action?”

Turia finished up apologising to parliament for her “Maori holocaust” speech but quickly found herself embroiled in new difficulties.

“I did not … mean to belittle survivors of the World War Two Holocaust, or those whose houses have been invaded,” she told Parliament in a personal statement.

But when asked by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters whether she felt the use of the term “holocaust” in a Waitangi Tribunal report on the treatment of the people of Taranaki gave her licence to use the term, she replied:

“I believe, yes, you’re quite right. I read the Waitangi Tribunal report on the devastation of the Taranaki peoples and I acknowledge they used the word ‘holocaust,’ which in terms of what happened to Taranaki I believe was appropriate.”

Trouble is, a few days earlier, Her High and Mightiness, Helen Clark, decreed that the term “holocaust” must never again be used in a New Zealand context.

Mrs Turia’s office accordingly went into damage-control mode with a press statement trying to clarify her response to Mr Peters.

In it, she said she thought his question referred to her thoughts at the time she gave the original speech to the New Zealand Psychological Society conference.

“Lest there be any misunderstanding, I accept the Prime Minister’s edict that ministers should not use this term [holocaust],” the statement said.

The incident gave us a splendid example of the thought control fostered under the Clark regime.

The Prime Minister’s edict was –

“I know the [Waitangi] tribunal used it [holocaust] with respect to Taranaki. I do not agree with that and I do not want to see ministers using the term and causing offence again.”

And if that message were not clear enough, she reiterated it later on Monday: “I don’t accept that the word holocaust can be validly used about the New Zealand experience.

“There are things about the New Zealand experience that none of us should feel proud about. In fact, we should feel ashamed of them. But I would not use that particular term, which has a specific and very tragic meaning.”

Those who wish to dip back into our recent history to find what Turia said will find it at What Tariana Turia said – in full.

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