Why are so many people shocked by the views that Maori Party MP Hone Harawira voiced in a private email?

Yes, Harawira has apologised for the expletives but he didn't apologise for the views he expressed - because they are the views that he has always held. Any apology for these long-held views would be transparently insincere and would be viewed exactly that way by the public.

Harawira's intemperate comments about Phil Goff simply inflamed the issue - but they too have their roots in his long-held political views.

They are views that also held by the Maori Party.

Remember what Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said in 2000? She compared the experience of Maoris under British colonisation to that of Jews in the Holocaust. This earned her a rebuke from Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Harawira, in a couple of interviews I heard yesterday, argued that he was just expressing views - albeit in colourful and unsophisticated language - that had been promulgated in articles, reports, and academic work 'for the last twenty years'.

To a certain extent this is true. We can go back to Donna Awatere's 1984 book Maori Sovereignty where she argued that all Pakehas had benefited from the confiscation and alienation of Maori land - and thus provoking a whole decade of liberal guilt tripping.

Awatere's views became part of an influential nationalist ideology throughout the 1980s.

It was an ideology that revolved around asserting Maori identity and culture. It implied that such an approach would bring about political and economic justice. for all Maori.

This ideology, because it did not identify the true nexus of political and economic power within New Zealand society, was easily integrated by both Labour and National Government's via the Waitangi grievance process and a deliberate policy of biculturalism.

What resulted was the emergence and expansion of a Maori middle class within the private sector, the state, the media.

But Maori nationalism has patently failed the Maori working class, who like their Pakeha counterparts, have been on the receiving end of the neoliberal economic policies of both Labour and National.

But Hone Harawira just doesn't get this. His comment on Campbell Live that he sees himself as occupying the parliamentary role formerly occupied by Sue Bradford is absurd.

Bradford, despite her inconsistencies , has not been blind to the politics of class and the power structures that exist within capitalist societies like New Zealand. The same can't be said for Harawira. His attempt to set himself up as a champion of the working class is nonsense.

In fact his politics have lead to a disastrous dead end. Harawira's view that Maori are oppressed by Pakeha simply serves to drive a wedge between the Maori and Pakeha working class.

The rub is through is that Harawira, like the Maori Party, is not anti-capitalist. In fact it has been convincingly argued that activists like Harawira and his colleagues in the Maori Party have been most active for changes that have benefited the already prosperous Maori middle class.

Despite what Harawira claims, the interests of Maori are not all the same. While he is living it up in Paris and Hawaii, courtesy of the taxpayer, working class Maori are signing up for the dole in increasing numbers or working in poorly paid jobs in South Auckland factories.

His views are not surprising and they are wrong. They have always been wrong.

True emancipation for Maori will not occur without the fundamental transformation of capitalism and that's something that neither Harawira or the Maori Party support.


  1. Yes, Harawira has apologised for the expletives but he didn't apologise for the views he expressed - because they are the views that he has always held

    Sure, but his expletives, for which he apologised for, is the way he always talks too, so how sincere is that apology?


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