By Patrick Gower
The Labour Party faithful have queued up to get into their party conference in Auckland this evening.
All members are welcome except one – the prodigal son, John Tamihere - who has not been allowed to return.
“It’s a bit like joining the Head Hunters,” he says, “as I'm trying to walk through, trying to get my membership, they are all there beating you – it’s a bit like a gang, a gang initiation”.
Yes, that's right, Mr Tamihere compares the Labour Party to the Head Hunters, Auckland's most feared gang. That's because while he's paid his membership fees and wants to be an MP again, his colourful past – including a Serious Fraud Office investigation – means that membership is yet to be approved by the party hierarchy.
He says he is being blocked by forces from within.
“No one wants you back if you are deemed to be a threat, so what you've got to do is water your threats down and kill them off – that's politics,” he says.
3 News tried to talk to Labour Party member Shane Te Pou about Mr Tamihere, but found the door closed. Mr Te Pou was a key figure in the Bill Liu citizenship controversy – a series of events currently under investigation by the Auditor-General. But while Mr Te Pou is allowed into the conference, Mr Tamihere isn't.
Mr Tamihere did actually back under-fire Labour leader David Shearer, but today Mr Shearer couldn't bring himself to back Mr Tamihere.
“I'm not going to give a personal view,” he says.
Mr Shearer is under huge pressure – but he believes he can beat anything, saying he will “absolutely” lead Labour into the next election.
SEE MORE: EXTENDED INTERVIEW: John Tamihere