Hone’s too valuable to lose
I’ve known Hone Harawira for many years and, like any number of his Maori acquaintances, I’ve copped the odd barrage from him along the way.
Mind you, I’ve dished out as much in return. He can be an arrogant, foul-mouthed, bullying bugger who’ll walk all over you, if you give him a chance.
The trick is to stand up to him, and for your own kaupapa, because he respects that.
But there’s a point that seems to be beyond the understanding of the mob of snivelling commentators who’ve been squealing about his racism.
Hone hates Pakeha according to the Michael Laws’ line, surprise, surprise, and Paul Holmes – and since when did he become a race relations expert? And, inevitably, by Winston Peters, who sniffs around for some kind of electoral advantage from all this.
But if they knew the man, they’d know there’s very little that’s racist about him. He puts the boot into anyone who’s in his way, whatever their colour.
And, just as quickly, he’ll link arms with anyone prepared to tackle the causes he values. Look at the bond between him and Sue Bradford, who kept fighting for the downtrodden when she got into Parliament.
There’s another point that has escaped Hone’s self-righteous critics. They’re appalled he seems so angry about what the Crown and colonisers got away with in the early days. But anger is a reasonable reaction to the massive rip-offs.
You won’t get any backing from me if you argue Hone shouldn’t be angry. But we’re all entitled to be cranky about how he sometimes handles that anger. Letting rip, even in a private email, wasn’t as disciplined as we’d like MPs to be.
Apart from the latest hiccup he has been a resounding success as an MP, challenging the tobacco industry, exposing the racism of the Australian government to Aboriginals, and fighting for a Maori flag.
It would be sad, maybe even tragic, to lose him from the political arena.