Hone Harawira is refusing to moderate his stance on marriage equality, or at least that’s how he came across on Radio Rhema (the Christian radio station). In a revealing interview Hone claimed to have never voted for something he didn’t believe in. When questioned on what’ll happen when his personal view clashes with Mana’s view, Hone was unclear.
Well, Hone can’t afford to be unclear. He’s on record as saying that the movement is bigger than he is. This seems to suggest that he’ll follow any decision the party makes. However, saying that you’re unsure what will happen in the event of a clash seems to suggest that Hone’s backing away from his indication to vote according to the party position. Like I said last week, the Maori Party provides an excellent case study what happens when you ignore your members.
I think Hone will have to cave. After all, there isn’t a split within the Mana Party. There is a split between Hone Harawira and the Mana Party. On marriage equality Hone’s view is divorced from the Mana Party’s view. Some Mana members, or Hone apologists, are attempting to write off the issue as unimportant. Others are claiming marriage is not a Maori concept and, therefore, unimportant. This ignores the fact that marriage, although a western concept, is one that the huge majority of Maori adopt. Therefore, Maori are invested in the issue. Furthermore, the Mana Party is more than just a Maori party. It’s a radical party too, in other words an anti-discrimination party, and cannot claim radical status while upholding marriage discrimination.
Most interestingly Hone claimed never to have voted for something he didn’t believe in. This is admirable, but not a practical stance for a leader of a parliamentary party. After all, Hone isn’t in Parliament representing himself – he represents Te Tai Tokerau and the Mana Party. Hone is obligated to follow the party line even if he doesn't agree. Any actions otherwise legitimise the Maori Party's claim that Mana is really the Hone Party.
I support Hone Harawira and I support what the Mana Party stands for, but on marriage equality Hone is being regressive and I don’t support his position or his justifications. Lastly, Hone’s opposition to marriage equality makes this gesture to the gay community look hollow. A cynic would say Hone’s position reaffirms this gesture to Destiny Church.