Hone’s too valu­able to lose

Central Leader - - News -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.