Goff not ruling out working with Harawira

Labour leader Phil Goff says he could work with Hone Harawira if the latter becomes an independent MP. 

Mr Harawira was suspended indefinitely from the Maori Party caucus yesterday after continuing problems with his fellow MPs.

Last month, party whip Te Ururoa Flavell laid a formal complaint after Mr Harawira wrote in a newspaper column that the party was too wrapped up in its coalition with National and was supporting anti-Maori policies.

A disciplinary committee is due to meet tomorrow to discuss the complaint.

Speaking to media today, Mr Goff said he would not rule out working with Mr Harawira.

"I've said before I'll work with anybody in Parliament providing it's in the interests of all New Zealanders and it's for values that we believe in," Mr Goff said.

"Hone Harawira's not the issue. The issue is the concerns that typical New Zealanders have about jobs, about incomes, and we'll work with anyone that's prepared to support the stand that we'll make on behalf of New Zealanders on those issues."

Mr Goff said the Maori Party in-fighting had drawn attention away from important issues, including price increases and a Maori unemployment rate that had reached "horrific" levels.

"The Maori Party's been totally distracted for five months on a squabble within its ranks, and over that five months things have got steadily worse for Maori and Pakeha alike," he said.

"We need the focus back on the issues that are really worrying people."

Mr Goff said the concerns raised by Mr Harawira about the Maori Party's direction were echoed by Maori voters, and could lead to a boost in Labour support.

"I went up to Waitangi on Saturday and what people were telling me on the pai, kaumatua, they said Maori were coming back to Labour," he said.

"They are disillusioned with what the Maori Party National Party coalition has delivered to their people. They see only rising prices and rising unemployment, not things that work for them and their families."

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