Cactus Kate thought the Maori Party Constitution could save Hone when Flavell’s complaint surfaced. She missed one crucial point; according to its Constitution the Maori Party Council makes decisions by consensus. I remember consensus decision-making from my days as a community activist in the 1970’s. Nay-sayers have a veto. If Te Tai Tokerau’s representatives don’t agree, the Council can’t decide and Hone doesn’t go. And if Hone is to be believed, it doesn’t look likely that they will consent.
But Harawira did lay down a challenge to the broader party hierarchy, insisting that any move to expel him when the disciplinary panel meets on Wednesday would rile his electorate.
”I am a member of the Maori Party and I have been elected by Maori Party people and others in the electorate with the greatest Maori Party membership in the country. Now, are they saying that they’re going to say to all of those members, some 5000 of them in the Tai Tokerau: ‘We don’t care that you’ve chosen Hone to be your MP. We’re going to get rid of him because we don’t like him’. Are you saying that they intend to disrespect the chosen mouthpiece of 5000 of the people of the Tai Tokerau?”
The process was clarified in a Maori Party press release from the chair of the disciplinary committee Te Orohi Paul, Māori Party National Council Co Vice-President:
Once the Committee has completed its processes in considering the matter, it will make a recommendation to the National Council. Under clause 4.1 of the Constitution, the National Council is the “governing body of the Party outside of an Annual General Meeting” and has responsibility for the “fundamental running of the Party”. For that reason, any decision as to what is to be done regarding the complaint will be taken by the National Council.”
This is what the Maori party Constitution says:
4.2 The Council comprises the following –
a. Party President; two Co-Vice Presidents (one tāne and one wahine) and ;
b. Up to four Council members selected by each Electorate (including rangatahi and both wahine and tāne), or their substitute as determined by each Electorate. Each may hold office for three years.4.4 All decisions of the National Council shall be by consensus. (Consensus may be defined as a process of ‘whakawhitiwhiti whakaaro,’ To arrive at an outcome at which those present, are accepting’). The National Council shall ratify or otherwise, any decision made by the National Executive since the previous meeting.
Interestingly, John Key was asked at his post-cabinet conference today whether he thought Hone’s expulsion from the Maori Party caucus today was pre-judging Wednesday’s disciplinary process. His answer was that as far as he was aware they were completely separate matters. Yeah right.