Talks with Maori Party sought

Hone Harawira, dressed in a feather cloak (korowai), is welcomed on to Rawhitiroa kura kaupapa...
Hone Harawira, dressed in a feather cloak (korowai), is welcomed on to Rawhitiroa kura kaupapa yesterday. Inset (from left) Pita Sharples, Tariana Turia and Kelvin Davis. Photo by <i>The New Zealand Herald.</i>
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says he will persist in seeking new talks with the Maori Party despite initial resistance from Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples and his own Mana members.

Mr Harawira said last night he would still make an attempt "and I will try with all sincerity".

Speaking after the Mana Party conference in Whangarei last night and his win in the Te Tai Tokerau by-election on Saturday he said, however, it might pay to delay the talks.

"It might be better if we let this hullabaloo of the past couple of days and the last couple of weeks die down."

Dr Sharples yesterday talked about taking on Mr Harawira again in Te Tai Tokerau at the general election in five months.

Co-leader Tariana Turia also said there was no reason at this stage for the Maori Party not to fight for the seat in the election but it needed to have a strategy review.

"The party will have to get together very quickly in the next week and look at what our strategy is going to be taking ourselves forward."

Mr Harawira forced the by-election after resigning from the Maori Party over the foreshore and seabed reforms and then resigning from Parliament and forming the Mana Party.

His previous majority of 6308 was slashed to 867 on preliminary results, with Labour's Kelvin Davis coming second and the Maori Party's Solomon Tipene well behind on 1026.

Mr Harawira told the Herald that any truce was not about him, Dr Sharples or Mrs Turia but it was about independent political representation in Parliament.

"I don't think us tearing each other to threads is going to help that independent political voice."

He said a number of people at the Mana conference expressed disappointment that he was contemplating talking to the Maori Party.

"On a grander scale it is an important step."

However, earlier in the day he was less conciliatory, suggesting to reporters that Mr Tipene, the Maori co-leader and president Pem Bird were too old for politics.

"I think given that four of their leadership are pensioners doesn't suggest they have the wherewithal to lead a vibrant young nation.

"That's not to put them down but yeah, I think that's kind of lacking, they seem kind of slow and stodgy."

The Maori Party is blaming its poor result on its infrastructure having been gutted when Mr Harawira left.

Dr Sharples said the leadership of Te Tai Tokerau asked the Maori Party to stand.

"We will work hard to regain the seat and to honour that call they made of us."

Labour is taking great heart from the result, and Shane Jones who is taking on Dr Sharples for the first time in the Auckland seat of Tamaki Makaurau, said the Maori Party was now a "ghost ship".

Mr Harawira won the booth at Dr Sharples' Hoani Waititi Marae with 40, Mr Davis got 35 and the Maori Party candidate got 24.

Labour leader Phil Goff said Mr Davis has slashed Mr Harawira's majority by 85%, putting him within striking distance to take back the seat in November.

Prime Minister John Key said the by-election had been a waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars, only to end up in the same position it started from.


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