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Failures of leadership: English, Hide, and Harawira

Written By: - Date published: 1:57 pm, November 15th, 2009 - 66 comments
Categories: leadership, maori party, Media, national/act government, racism - Tags:

I know this point/counterpoint series of posts on Hone Harawira maybe getting a bit tiresome but I have to disagree with the assertion in a couple of recent ones that Harawira has been treated more harshly Bill English and Rodney Hide or, by implication, than a Pakeha in his situation would have. And I think that those posts could, if not read carefully, be perceived as somehow pro-Harawira, which is not the case. So, here’s my two cents.

I totally agree that Bill English and Rodney Hide (and the others) have got off easy for their rorts and rip-offs. But I don’t think that’s the media or the public’s fault. The media have been very demanding of both English and Hide, and their public reputations are mud. That pressure has resulted in important backdowns from both of them, and admissions that they were abusing public money. Should they have been fired? Yes. But the weak link in the chain isn’t the media or the public reaction, it’s old ‘Do nothing’ Key. Only Key can fire ministers and he failed to do so when it was due.

Key’s response to Harawira has actually been pretty much the same. He is ‘relaxed’ enough that he hasn’t matched Phil Goff in saying that an MP in Labour behaved like Harawira had, he would kick him out. Key hasn’t said he doesn’t want Harawira’s vote if he stays in the Maori Party.

But I think it’s pretty inarguable that if an MP in any other party than the Maori Party, whatever their ethnic group was, had behaved like Harawira – making racist comments, saying people should be shot – they would have got similar treatment. I don’t think he is getting a hard ride because he is Maori. The media coverage and public reaction, like that of English and Hide, has been tough and deserved.

I think there’s been a failure of leadership regarding English, Hide, and Harawira.

English and Hide should have lost their ministerial warrants. They would have in any previous government, I’m sure. But Key is too weak to enforce the standards he announced, particularly against these two, and more interested in preening than good governance, which gives them a licence to rort.

Turia and Sharples are also too weak. They want rid of a thorn in the side of their cozy relationship with National but they fear the schism that expelling Harawira could create. The illusion that Maoridom can be a single political movement with coherent interests and the illusion that this National government is advancing Maori interests may be shattered if Harawira is expelled and becomes a strong voice on the outside. Turia and Sharples are torn between needing him out and fearing him as an independent, so they’re giving him plenty of rope and hoping the problem will take care of itself – a weak strategy, which is letting this issue drag on far longer than it ought have.

Harawira’s behaviour is wrong and racist. And it is the unprecedented and extreme nature of his behaviour that has prompted the intense media coverage. I am confident that a Pakeha in his place would be getting the same media treatment. I don’t think he has been treated more harshly than English and Hide.

The blame for all these messes lies with the weak or dishonest leadership – Key, English, Hide, Turia, and Sharples – that is supposed to be running this government.

66 comments on “Failures of leadership: English, Hide, and Harawira ”

  1. Neil 1

    I’m not sure that giving Hone an ultimatum of shape up or ship out can be characterised as “weak”.

    As for Key, he’s handled this far more astutely than Labour. He’s left this for the MP to sort out and so avoids falling out with any of the main protagonists. Labour on the other hand will come out off-side with Hone, Pita and Tariana.

    It’s like when couples split. Don’t be too quick to pick sides – they might get back together.

    Can’t see their latest ploy of goading Hone about not having the balls to stand up to Tariana working too well.

  2. Pat 2

    “English and Hide should have lost their ministerial warrants. They would have in any previous government, I’m sure”

    Bollocks. How could Hide be sacked for using a parliamentary perk that he is legally entitled to have? On that basis the entire Labour cabinet would have been down the road.

    And being a hypocrite is not a sacking offense, either.

    • toad 2.1

      It wasn’t using the Parliamentary perk that Hide should have been sacked for – it was lying and obfuscating about it until he realised the truth would out, at which stage he finally came clean.

      As for English, he deliberately manipulated his personal affairs to claim a housing allowance that the Auditor-General has now determined he was not entitled to receive. He hides behind “official advice” that the Auditor-General has determined was not relevant to his circumstances.

      IMO – both sackable offenses.

      • Herodotus 2.1.1

        So what is your feelings on H1 re the painting. If a prima facie case of fraud is not worthy of sacking what is. And H1 admitted to signing something that she did not paint.
        It took a priviledges case to be found before a Lab min had to return her warrent, and not forgetting a Dutch citizen to have to retro change the law to allow his inclusion in the 2002 lab caucus.
        Re official advice The pledge card ?
        I know that the red of Lab are not your prime colour. All I am trying to say here is that the Rules/laws have not meant alot for quite a while. And all this throwing stones at glass houses …

        • RedLogix

          So what is your feelings on H1 re the painting.

          A ‘prima facie’ case is far from the same thing as a conviction. All that was established were the facts of the case, which were never challenged.The simple reason why the case never made it to Court is that one crucial element necessary to convict was missing; evidence of any harm, disadvantage, loss or damage done to any person.

          Signing something you did not paint is not fraudulent in itself, unless you then subsequently misrepresent that signature as meaning that you were the artist. That was never the case; the provenance of the signature was clearly conveyed to the original purchasor.

          There was never a case, except a hysteria whipped up by the unthinking mob from the sewer and perpetuated years later by the terminally stupid.

          and not forgetting a Dutch citizen to have to retro change the law to allow his inclusion in the 2002 lab caucus.

          Again you misconstrue the letter of the law, for it’s purpose. The status Dynhoven’s citizenship was of no real or valid concern to anyone. The man was clearly a long-term resident and accepted by everyone as a bone-fide New Zealander. There was no authentic reason to bar his membership of Parliament on the grounds of a simple technical oversight.

          The ‘rule of law’ does not mean the absurdist, slavish adherence to every jot and title of the law books. It means that we understand what the laws are saying, what their underlying purpose is and apply them with intelligence and insight.

          • Herodotus

            Re Dynhoven, during the same elcetion a United Future list Mp (For a week) had to stand aside as she did not have NZ citizenship, I think she was a resident. Dynhoven would have either signed a declaration that he was able to stand as a MP(if he did so he signed an incorrect form) or if he did not the election returning officer (I think) should have done their job and not allowed him to stand. So who can and cannot stand is a tech issue, I am sure that The US presidential elections would allow that arguement to stand for someone who was not born in the US.
            Why was H1 case not continued and yet a Nat Mp (cannot remember his name) for driving a tractor in parliament went so far?
            At the time of the auction the painting WAS rep as one H1 painted, and if I recall correctly, her rebutal was “Others are doing the same thing” or something to that effect.
            What gets me is that there are some out there who follow the path of what They are doing is not right, BUT what we did is ok. I have great reservations as to the purity of their arguements, and that there is no cause to clean out the whose cesspit infecting all in Wellington.
            As i have said before, some here should play Devils avocate and justify the Nats and then review their reasoning for Labs efforts. It may make both Lab stronger and the govt stronger, and we get better goverance from all.

            • Jasper

              Duynhoven had NZ citizenship already. The issue was that he renewed his dual citizenship with Holland, and it was later established that an archaic law existed preventing anyone with dual citizenship from allowing anyone to stand for parliament.

              Russell Norman is another that the law change benefited.

              Kelly Chal had to stand aside as she did not have citizenship, NOR did she have permanent residency. To get citizenship would have taken far too long so she was out. She unfortunately does not take the prize of shortest lived MP as she was not sworn in.

              Shane Ardern drove a tractor up the steps in clear defiance of the law which prohibits vehicles from parliament forecourt except in certain circumstances. Hence why the 2500 bikies aren’t allowed on Parliament grounds when they go there this week.

              It was never represented that Helen painted it. It was always said that she signed it, never that she painted it.

            • Herodotus

              Jasper, I thought you cannot hold dual citizenship as a Dutch passport holder, so he relingished his NZ. But I am willing to be corrected. Yet he was at the time of the election not eligible until a reto act was passed.
              Shane Adern was not the 1st MP to drive up to Parliament on a tractor, the prev was a Lab MP I think Dover Samuals, the clerk or who ever controls parl did not charge him. It was all political. And with the assistance of Redlogix(Thanks) H1 has repeated this action 3 other times, many she did not realise she had done it.
              My aim is to say that there are past instances from Lab that would question the basis to sck those mentioned.

            • RedLogix

              Jasper, I thought you cannot hold dual citizenship as a Dutch passport holder, so he relingished his NZ.



              And with the assistance of Redlogix(Thanks) H1 has repeated this action 3 other times, many she did not realise she had done it.

              It is really difficult to understand what you are referring to,but I assume you are misrepresenting the information in the Police report. The clear cut conclusion was that the other incidents did not constitute any sort of fraud whatsoever. The fact that you try to insinuate that they were, tells us mainly about your own bitter, obsessed state of mind.

          • Deus ex Machina

            “The simple reason why the case never made it to Court is that one crucial element necessary to convict was missing; evidence of any harm, disadvantage, loss or damage done to any person.”

            Rubbish. If an act defined as a crime has been committed it is not necessary to show it caused harm. If it were no drunk driver could be convicted until he’d actually hit someone!

            Perhaps the mitigating factor in Clarke’s case was that the ‘fraud’ was carried out with benevolent intent and for no personal gain, but in my view that doesn’t excuse it. I wish fervently that she was still Prime Minister, but in my view she should have been prosecuted and discharged without conviction.

      • Gooner 2.1.2

        Rubbish Toad. Hide knew it would be revealed so he didn’t lie or obfuscate over anything. His mistake was misjudgment of the political fallout: he never rorted or ripped off anyone.

        • RedLogix

          His mistake was misjudgment of the political fallout

          His mistake was running off with the all-time, all-comers prize hypocrite of the century award.

          Made even more outrageous by the fact that less than a year earlier Hide led the mob which outed Peters from Parliament on the grounds of… hypocrisy.

      • RedLogix 2.1.3

        both sackable offenses

        But won’t be.

        • Herodotus

          For something that is within the rules is now considered sackable. Next thing going 99 km/hr will result in a speeding ticket?
          Or are we going to get politicians telling the full truth and working for only the best for NZ, tax miminimising is illegial assoc with a penalty and fine. You appear to me to live in a very tilted one eyed world. I would almost ask if you are form Canterbury, but I wouldn’t!

          • RedLogix

            The world is full of fools who don’t understand the difference between legal and ethical.

          • Deus ex Machina

            The distinction is that concept which most parliamentarians display lamentable ignorance of – Integrity.

            Millionaires are entitled to claim Child Benefit. It’s within the rules. Whether or not they claim it when they don’t need it and are not the people for which it was intended comes down to a matter of personal integrity.

            Bowling underarm is allowed in a cricket match. It’s within the rules but whether or not you chose to bowl underarm and deny the opposition the opportunity to score a winning run is a matter of sportsmanship and integrity.

            The acts of English, Hide and Harawera demonstrate to me that they have no personal integrity, and in my view integrity should be the most important facet of an MP’s character – but hey, that’s an old-fashioned view.

        • Herodotus

          Which is the greater evil?
          From my understanding if acting in the contary, one corrupts the individual from within, the other undermines society/the law.

            • Herodotus

              Same as Jesus sermon regarding the Pharisees.
              Yet should not the authors of the law follow and adhere to both?
              As we have become a less cohesive society follow the lower denominator i.e. the law, and even that can be with a good lawyer be lower to a greater depth.
              My orginial intention was to comment that this us/them game does nothing but to undermine authority & the law as there is nothing to put a standard on behaviour for ALL to follow, and by walking a mile o=in the other persons shoes (i.e. Nats) may give the reader a more balanced understanding and some progress forward. Or is that asking to much ?
              p.s. last comment on Wiki “Following the letter of the law but not the spirit is also a tactic used by oppressive governments.” So from this all governments i have been exposed to have been

            • RedLogix

              As you are being oppressive yourself.

              The so called forged painting was of no material or moral significance whatsover. The extensive Police report concluded that while the letter of the law may have been breached, there was no good reason to pursue a prosecution.

              Moreover one of NZ’s leading painters expressed this perspective:

              Leading art-world figures yesterday brushed off Henry van Dijk’s outrage over the $1000 Helen Clark painting that turned out to be the work of someone else.

              Some said he deserved disappointment, particularly because he has an arts retail diploma.

              “This is a beautiful art story,” said Otago-based painter Grahame Sydney. “It has everything – greed, charity, mystery, famous people and fools.

              “A trained art retailer buys an appalling piece of paint and hopes a change in public status of the name on the back will make him some money.

              “So much for charity. He should be happy to have got Helen’s signature for only $1000.”


              The real story here was the shameful, disgusting twisting of a simple act of generosity intended to do nothing more than assist a worthy charity, into something so corrosively partisan and sinister.

            • Herodotus

              But it does say something of H1 character and I disagree that it does have a moral significance, if my leader can act like that what does it say about NZ. (The same could be said re Clinton using the narrow meaning of words to stop being indicted). And it is not for an art critic (unless on Jury duty hen what he has to say is very important) comments to have a large weighting on a piece of law for me.

            • RedLogix

              But it does say something of H1 character and I disagree that it does have a moral significance,

              H1 signed a painting to help a charity raise funds. Although technically it was a legal mistake, there was clearly, absolutely never any intent to defraud.

              To project a simple mistake, one made with the best of intentions, into some kind of muddled ethical judgement on Helen Clark’s character, is more of a comment about yourself than anything else.

              And Grahame Sydney is not just an art critic, he is one of the most outstanding, recognised artists in this country. His opinion on the ethics of this episode carries far more weight in the art world than either yours or mine.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Disagree Marty. (And respectfully, that doesn’t happen very often.)

    You would be right if Harawira was a case on his own, but he’s not. To my mind this is just one more example, where there has been a disporportionate, bordering on hysterical, overeaction to a working class brown making a mistake, or getting a bit far up some white noses by calling how they see it.

    The racism you have in mind is that explicit kind of open prejudice that characterised, for instance the US South during the worst of the Jim Crow years. (And still goes on in many forms around the world, overt racism is not just something that only white people do to coloured ones.) I agree, that’s not what is happening to Harawira.

    Far more endemic and difficult to confront is the implicit, even unconcious, sense of innate superiority and entitlement that is common among white people. A sense that expresses itself indirectly and works to protect privilege by shutting down challenges to it’s underlying, often unspoken, assumptions and rules.

    Harawira could be tolerated as long as he played by those rules, but the moment he stepped over the line (and I accept that he did), the well-oiled clobbering machine swings into terminal beheading mode.

    • gitmo 3.1

      “Far more endemic and difficult to confront is the implicit, even unconcious, sense of innate superiority and entitlement that is common among white people. A sense that expresses itself indirectly and works to protect privilege by shutting down challenges to it’s underlying, often unspoken, assumptions and rules.”

      Ahhhhhhh the evil whities are coming the whities are coming God protect us all. what a load of BS.

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        Yes, unconcious you remain.

        Still as an expert on BS identification, maybe you now share some inkling with Mr Harawira’s similar irritation.

        • gitmo

          I suggest you spend next week wandering the streets hitting yourself with a birch branch while wailing forgive me I’m white, forgive me I’m white.

    • Olwyn 3.2

      Well said, RedLogix.

  4. toad 4

    Marty, please explain what is racist about what Hone said.

    Your posts are usually well-reasoned and based on extensive factual evidence. This one isn’t.

    Hone told the truth – that white colonists have been responsible through various means for the alienation of over 60 million acres of Maori land into largely non-Maori hand. It may be an unpalatable truth for some of us to confront, but it is the truth.

    Accuse him of sexism for his inappropriate use of the term “rape” in a way that trivialises the trauma of women who are raped and I would agree with you. Accuse him of sexism for his use of the term “motherfuckers” too, and I would agree with you.

    But are either of these any worse that Trevor Mallard calling Chris Finlayson “Tinkerbell”? IMO – not!

    But you accuse Hone of racism, as have a number of other blog authors and MSM commentators. He didn’t say that all white people were responsible for the alienation of Maori land. He didn’t say white people are pre-disposed genetically to rip others off. Either of those statements would have been racist.

    I just don’t get it why you accuse him of racism – please explain. From where I’m sitting this thing should have been a storm in a teacup about his use of sexist language, which many other male MPs frequently use too, and for which he has apologised.

      • toad 4.1.1

        But Marty, he didn’t call you or your whole ethnic group (which is mine as well) “white motherfuckers”.

        What he said was: “White motherfuckers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries…”

        That doesn’t implicate you personally Marty, or whites people in general.

        But some white colonists and their descendants have done precisely that – starting with legislation designed to alienate Maori land in the 1860s and, shamefully and most recently, Helen Clark and Michael Cullen – both of whom I otherwise hold a lot of respect for – through the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

        • Marty G

          toad, don’t be silly the comment is obviously racist and it matters not a jot if you can play semantic games with what he said. The meaning transcends mere semantics.

          Or do you think that the rest of the population just doesn’t understand and if you keep on explaining, keep on defending Harawira they suddenly say ‘oh yeah, he wasn’t being racist after all’

    • The Voice of Reason 4.2

      Hone did not say ‘bourgeois mother fuckers’ or ‘colonialist motherfuckers’, Toad. He said ‘white motherfuckers’. When you abuse a race, it’s racist. When you defend a racist it’s offensive, ignorant and sad. Still don’t understand why you and a couple other commentators here are doing it. Wouldn’t you be more comfortable over at WhaleOil?

  5. rocky 5

    And I think that those posts could, if not read carefully, be perceived as somehow pro-Harawira, which is not the case.

    Just in case you happen to be referring to my post – I should make it clear that I am pro-Harawira. I think he has done some stupid things, none of which he deserves to have his career destroyed over.

    • Marty G 5.1

      Are you pro the part where he called white people motherfuckers (‘oh he didn’t mean you’re all motherfuckers’, yeah right. and his apology doesn’t cut the mustard any more than Hide’s or English’s)? Or are you pro the part where he said Goff should be shot? Or the part where he lied about being sick and snuck off to Paris?

      Hone has done huge damage to race relations in this country, which is why everyone who has an interest in preserving advances in race relations is distancing themselves from him. Even his own tribe.

  6. More hypocrisy in this post coming from the Labour Party blog stooges than any of the three aforementioned politicians.

    Sunday Afternoon Humour section tag required, surely.

    • erm 6.1

      ‘they’ are too busy wristing each other off to notice they are humorous..in a ‘pat pat funny yes you are’ way.

  7. greenfly 7

    This’ll sound simplistic, but I’ve noticed, out in the face to face world, that people who feel Hone meant them personally, when he said ‘white motherfuckers’ are furious about him, whereas those who think he referred to those pakeha who did the raping etc. aren’t especially bothered. I’ve not yet met anybody who has been able, despite careful debate, to shift from one position to the other.

    • felix 7.1

      I’ve noticed that too – it comes down to a division between those who are able to parse the English language and those who are not.

      I’ve also noticed that once the second group have been given a calm, polite lesson in basic English which renders their objections untenable they tend to move quickly to a position of “It was never about the actual words, he’s just a nasty piece of work, and I just know he’s a racist regardless of what he said” etc.

      • Con 7.1.1

        I think the reason for the different parsing by the 2 groups is that (in general) one group identifies themselves with those European colonialists that Harawira decried so vehemently, and the other group does not. If your own identity is defined racially then you will tend to take umbrage when people which whom you identify racially are criticised (whether that criticism itself is racist or not). In my opinion it’s not too dissimilar to the way that criticism of Zionism is routinely seen as anti-Semitism and criticism of US imperialism as “anti-Americanism”.

        • felix

          … not too dissimilar to the way that criticism of Zionism is routinely seen as anti-Semitism and criticism of US imperialism as ‘anti-Americanism’.

          Indeed. And those criticisms are also usually based on either a flawed understanding of language or of history.

  8. Adrian 8

    Speaking of the Case of the Tractor on the Steps, if it had been a callow youth with his cap on back to front in a Subaru protesting about one of the million things his cohort have legitimate complaints about, how many years do you think he would still have to serve?

  9. Tim 9

    Sanity finally reigns! Clear, concise and completely true.

    Those defending Harawira and his actions have lost their minds. What he did was not acceptable in any way. Racism, in by anyone, is never tolerable or acceptable. Defending him, as many have on this blog, is conding this sort of behaviour and certainly not something that we want associated with the left.

    • RedLogix 9.1

      Those defending Harawira and his actions have lost their minds.

      Who? Not me… he’s made several stupid mistakes and he’s apologised for them. No-one has been defending his actions.

      At the same time the white faux outrage is appallingly disporportionate and utterly over the top. If Harawira had expressed exactly the same sentiments in the polite, educated weasel words that Michael Laws routinely uses, no-one would have noticed.

      His main crime was to express his feelings in brown working class language. Get over it.

      • toad 9.1.1

        Good comment RL – pretty much what I’ve just said below – our comments crossed.

      • Herodotus 9.1.2

        Do not continual posts from sites like this and (the every increasing comment in moderation) Red Alert (I say these 2 sites as mentioning others may get be banned !! haha) not just fuel the topic?
        From my observations all we are getting is a different anti govt spin on the topic and how the spin will assist Lab at the attempt to destroy The MP.
        For me like some others the comments do not quell me up with rage, dissappoinment in what could be the common usage and acceptance of crass language. So all I have got out of this is some understanding that I am not a red neck.

      • the sprout 9.1.3

        apparently criticizing the wrongs of ‘our’ side is tantamount to defending the ‘other’.

        a bit like any criticism of the war is supporting the terrists 😆

    • toad 9.2

      I defend him because what he said was not racist. It was stupid and sexist, and I don’t defend him for that. He has taken note of that and apologised.

      But it was probably less stupid that your comment here Tim. Hone, of anyone in the Maori Party, has staunchly defended working class aspirations and very much identifies with the “left”. He was livid when National pushed through its fire@will bill.

      By attacking him, despite his stupidity in sending an email with very ill-chosen language, you side with those in the Maori Party (and Labour, for that matter) who choose to brown-nose the Brown Table and big business instead of defending working class Maori.

      Hone has a class analysis. Do you really think Tariana, whom you are implicitly defending by your faux outrage attacking Hone, does?

  10. Galeandra 10

    I read Hone’s words and agree with Toad by and large. I congratulate Hone on encouraging the sloughing of their Liberal veneer by a lot of phony Liberals. It was a private e-mail containing a conditional clause, for Dog’s sake. Be offended by the tell-tale in the story and get over it, you lot.

  11. Chi 11

    “I am confident that a Pakeha in his place would be getting the same media treatment.”

    I am confident that you are wrong. A Pakeha in his place would be getting much harsher condemnation from the media. There would be universal calls for the person to resign.

  12. Rodel 12

    I don’t like Hone’s rhetoric but much as I hate to admit it he’s been honest and you know what he stands for. The on;y people who are really interested in Hone’s activities are the media who are too lazy to concentrate on the real news and the real issues confronting this country. They like a little circus because then they don’t have to do any hard work.

    Hide and English were never honest about their devious dealings and JK is as usual the vacuous simpleton. We all know what they stand for but they’re not honest about it.

    Sharples and Turia, I just don’t know what they stand for- maybe just their platitudes?

    • Geek 12.1

      Hide as much as he is a hypocrite and should resign for it was honest about his travel. Not once did he lie. Hone on the other hand lied to his leader by claiming he was sick when he skipped work to go to Paris then blamed Colonization for skipping work and going to Paris. Not to much honesty going on there if you ask me.

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