By Alex Tarrant
Prime Minister John Key says Hone Harawira's reference to "little house niggers" is offensive and he should apologise.
The Mana Party leader used Facebook to criticise the Maori Party for not making up its mind about attending next Thursday's national hui on water rights.
Mr Key has said none of his ministers or MPs will be there, but it is up to Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples to decide whether they will attend. Both are ministers but they won't be able to go in that capacity.
"Time John Key realised a few home truths like (1) he can tell his little house niggers what to do but (2) the rest of us don't give a s*** for him or his opinions," Mr Harawira said.
"What's the bet Tari and Pete cop so much flak from Maori for saying that they're not going to the hui that they find some reason to change their mind and say they're gonna go."
Mr Harawira later said the comments were not a reference to the Maori Party, but to Maori MPs in the National Party.
Mr Key, who is attending an APEC summit in Vladivostok, says the comments are out of line.
"Frankly I find them offensive about my coalition partners. I think secondly, New Zealanders would find that term offensive," Key says.
"I know it's Hone Harawira being Hone Harawira, but frankly I think he owes them an apology," he says.
Dr Sharples is expected to attend the hui.