Hone Harawira has announced he is re-forming the Mana Movement and intends standing in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate at the next election. Harawira has also suggested that prominent pakeha mana leaders Sue Bradford and John Minto will have lower profiles this time around.
Harawira told Mihingarangi Forbes on TV3’s The Hui that he was re-forming the Mana Movement because Māori lacked a strong voice in Parliament. The man he has to beat in Te Tai Tokerau, Kelvin Davis, probably disagrees.
Mr Harawira first won Te Tai Tokerau as as a supporter of the Key National Government, then split from the Maori party to form the Mana party, winning the seat again in a by-election. Harawira’s decision to ally with Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party in 2014 was a disaster, with IP/Mana gaining just 1.5 percent of the party vote and losing Te Tai Tokerau to Labour’s Kelvin Davis.
Harawira says a partnership with Labour is unlikely, as he feels its leader, Andrew Little, has led the Labour party away from its working-class roots.
“He seems to be a nice enough guy, but he keeps bouncing around from trying to sound tough to trying to sound centrist, and I just think the leader of the Labour Party should have made up his mind by now. I think he sings from a different song sheet that boy, and it’s not exactly the song sheet that fits the Mana profile.”
So no chance of a Labour/Greens style arrangement then, which presumably means he won’t be winning Te Tai Tokerau back and Mana redux is probably dead in the water already.
Harawira is dismissive of the current maori MP’s:
“You’ve gotta have somebody in there who’s a fighter. Somebody who won’t be cowed by party politics or by Parliamentary politics, and is gong to stand up and say what needs to be said, whenever it needs to be said.
“Kelvin’s tried, I think Marama’s tried, but they keep getting squeezed back into that party box.”
There’s a couple of interesting points about Hone Harawira’s announcement. Firstly, it appears that he’s taken it upon himself to decide that the party needs re-tooling. That says a lot about the internal democracy of the party.
Secondly, demoting Bradford and Minto suggests that he wants to narrow the party’s focus. Again, it would be interesting to know if Harawira consulted with anyone about this. Did Minto and Bradford know they were being sidelined?
Frankly, I think Harawira would be better to take Bernie Sanders’ advice to his supporters and build a team to stand in local elections first. We have a round of council elections later this year and the Labour Party are going to be standing under their own banner in several towns and cities. Mana might want to test their support by doing the same.
Anyway, good on Hone for trying again. It’s just a shame that by distancing himself from Labour at a time when they are open to partnership approaches he has almost certainly doomed Mana 2.0 before it has even got started.