Harawira 'dictatorship' unwelcome – Turia
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is rejecting Mana leader Hone Harawira's attempts to merge the two parties, saying his "dictatorship" style isn't welcome.
Mr Harawira formed Mana after leaving the Maori Party in early 2011 amid a dispute with its leaders. Now he wants to bring the parties back together, and is hinting he might challenge for the Maori Party leadership.
"I've been asked by various kaumatua and kuia to come back because of the divisions within the leadership and the fact that the Maori Party seems to be dying," Mr Harawira said today.
Ms Turia plans to stand down at the 2014 election and has urged co-leader Pita Sharples to follow suit to make way for fresh blood.
However, she says she sees Mr Harawira's aspirations as a joke.
"The fact is the Maori Party is led by the people and we're not prepared to be led by any kind of dictatorship," she told media at Ratana Marae, where the party has gathered for annual Ratana Church celebrations.
"Somebody who purports to represent our people, and to say that he's got to be the leader, no, no, that's not how it works in our party."
She says the parties have tried to work together previously but it has not worked.
Ms Turia added that when she read news reports of Mr Harawira's leadership aspirations, she "thought Hone had started a comedy show".
Dr Sharples is more open to working with Mana, saying there's no reason the parties shouldn't be talking about it.
"It's a bit silly to have two Maori-kind of parties," he said.
Further discussions over the Maori Party's future will take place at Ratana this week. Dr Sharples is reluctant to step down, and the party's other MP, Te Ururoa Flavell, is also making a bid for the leadership.
Former Maori Party MP Rahui Katene, who lost her Te Tai Tonga seat in the 2011 election, is understood to be eyeing a leadership role and may stand in Ms Turia's Te Tai Hauauru seat in 2014.