By James Murray
The Maori Party co-leadership has today suspended Hone Harawira from their Parliamentary caucus.
The suspension is due to Mr Harawira's behaviour over the past five years.
"Mr Harawira has failed to show the restraint and discipline expected of a caucus member and the Caucus now has no faith or confidence in him. The suspension remains in force until further notice," says the statement released by Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia.
This morning Mr Harawira told Radio New Zealand that expelling him from the party would be disrespectful to his supporters.
''I am a member of the Maori Party and I have been elected by Maori Party people and others in the electorate with the greatest Maori Party membership in the country," he said.
"Now, are they saying that they're going to say to all of those members, some 5000 of them in the Tai Tokerau: 'We don't care that you've chosen Hone to be your MP. We're going to get rid of him because we don't like him'. Are you saying that they intend to disrespect the chosen mouthpiece of 5000 of the people of the Tai Tokerau?''
In recent times Mr Harawira has publically criticised the Maori Party’s coalition with National, especially over the Marine and Coastal Area bill designed to replace the Foreshore and Seabed bill.
Mr Harawira also recently accused “dickheads” of trying to get rid of him, although he has not said who he was referring to on his Facebook page.
A hui to discuss as complaint made by fellow Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell over a column written by Mr Harawira in the Sunday Star Times descended into farce last week as Maori Party members failed to turn up, claiming they had not been invited.
The hui turned into a support rally for Mr Harawira with supporters placing signs suggesting he should become the party leader.
The statement makes reference to past attempts to reconcile with Mr Harawira.
“It is really unfortunate in the political environment when conflict arises such as we have experienced. In the past we have attempted to follow a kaupapa and tikanga process to no avail. It is for that reason that we looked to the constitution, that Hone helped to shape, to assist us.
“Having no regard for the constitution is one thing. It is quite another to have no regard for the kaupapa and tikanga of the party, and that is really what has brought us to this point.
“Factions within parties are not new. We are, however, the only party that comprises membership from one end of the spectrum to the other, and that is why we have relied on our tikanga and kaupapa, the foundation principles of the Maori world, as a guide to our behaviour.”
The statements says the decision has been made with “heavy hearts” but says that “no political movement divided within itself, survive”.
If Mr Harawira was expelled from the Maori Party or chose to leave and run as an independent, the current political balance would become quite interesting.
Mr Harawira is fiercely popular in Te Tai Tokerau and would stand a good chance of winning as an independent.
This could have implications for the strength of the Maori Party’s coalition with the National Government.