May 5, 2011

Bad call, Hone

Angry, arrogant Harawira may be gone, but stupid Harawira is still with us. From the Herald:

Hone Harawira has described Osama bin Laden as "a man who fought for the rights, the land and the freedom of his people".

Mr Harawira said on Maori Television's Native Affairs that bin Laden had "pursued independence for his people, his family and his tribe".

When asked if he was concerned about how such comment could be construed, he said he was Maori and "tributes to the dead are always appropriate" in Maori custom.

It is not that Hone lacks discipline, he is not shooting from the hip, he genuinely believes that Osama Bin Laden is freedom fighter. I am no expert on the subject, but others more qualified than I have indicated that he was not – he was in fact a cruel and oppressive man with warped religious notions. Osama did not believe in freedom in the proper sense of the word.

This is Hone’s most significant problem. He is supremely confident in his beliefs, but some of his beliefs are built upon romantic and ultimately fallacious notions. Hone Harawira immediately equates the underdog, the perceived anti-western/anti-colonial fighter with something good. This is why it is vitally important, in the interests of the Mana Party, to have people who will challenge and reshape some of Hone’s stranger views. If Hone believes something to be true he will tell you. This is a virtue of course, but problematic given Hone’s, to be polite, unconventional views.

Perhaps what is most disappointing about this issue is that it will not help Hone’s standing among his constituents. One or two Maori nationalists may hold the same view, but the underclass will not – the only image they have of Osama Bin Laden is the image of a mass murderer. His non-voter constituents will probably think Hone is mad and condones murder.

I have no problem with Hone’s view that Maori respect the dead. But respect falls short of homage. I am really, really disappointed that Hone has made this mistake. Although I did not see the Closeup debate between Hone and Brash, by all accounts Hone did well. However, he has now provided the media with ammunition to run negative stories.   

As I said, Hone does not lack control. This was not a random comment. It was a statement of genuine belief and a foolish one at that. If anything sinks the Mana Party it will be these sorts of deformed views – it will not be lack of discipline and control.


  1. Why was Osama Bin Laden murdered then?

  2. What Hone actually did was a mihi to the dead, which is a Maori custom "...ahakoa ko wai te tangata" despite who the person is. Those are the things you say whenever you hear of someone's passing. That is the tikanga.

    If you listen to the video, Scotty Morrison is the one who mentions Osama being a freedom fighter ("engari he tangata tino whaiwhai mo te tino rangatiratanga o tona iwi nera? me ona whakapono") and Hone acknowledges that. But he's not saying 'oh yay he was a choice dude' but points out that he was a human being who had a family/tribe/people that will mourn him...

    "no reira, he tikanga kia kaua e takahi i te mate engari me mihi atu ki a ia mo nga mahi e whai nei i a ia i te waiora"
    'therefore, the custom is don't trample on the dead, but instead celebrate the good things he did'

    Please please watch the article in question and read the subtitles before you go spouting the same tripe as mainstream media.
    They have deliberately twisted Hone's reo me ona tikanga into saying something he wasn't.

    It is a willful misuse of te reo and a twisting of our tikanga.

  3. True bro - but after watching the Afghanis fight the Russian take over back in the day, and to hear that Osama did fight with the Mujahadeen to kick the Russians out, he did take a stand which was fully supported by some in America. Fast-forward 3 decades and its the Americans being hit for invading Afghanistan + issues around Saudi Arabia and Israel, well, there are similarities with what Te Kooti did to colonial New Zealand. I'm not down with Osama but in a way, can understand why a few do get so pissed off that the only way to get back is to fight back. F'd up really...

  4. "no reira, he tikanga kia kaua e takahi i te mate engari me mihi atu ki a ia mo nga mahi e whai nei i a ia i te waiora"
    'therefore, the custom is don't trample on the dead, but instead celebrate the good things he did'

    That assumes he did some good things, or enough to cancel out organising the deaths of 3000 people.

    If Don Brash died tomorrow I doubt Hone would be on TV talking about how awesome he was.

  5. .
    What Hone actually did was a mihi to the dead, which is a Maori custom "...ahakoa ko wai te tangata" despite who the person is.

    Mel has it right there.

    I hold no more brief for Bin Laden than I do for the capitalist US murderers of people in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and their own country.

    What Hone's mihi did for me was to inject a little humanity into the situation and take the edge off the hysterical screams of approval for Obama's brea , enter and execute without trial.

    I won't be signing up for the Mana party but I appreciated the brief moment of civilisation.

  6. 'I am no expert on the subject, but others more qualified than I have indicated that he was not – he was in fact a cruel and oppressive man with warped religious notions.'

    @ Morgan - you cite other sources here, who are they exactly? I am no expert on this topic, but imo hanging your whole argument on the say so of others is thin. I think you need to reveal your sources of info on this topic (for me to respect your point of view at least)... just my $0.50. Keep up your good work, I enjoy reading your blog.

  7. My mistake there. I meant to link to this excellent US blog

  8. Try this too:

    His deeds speak for themselves

  9. In building a house make sure the plan for your sinks and other plumbing utilities will be set into right plan or pattern.

  10. I was quite proud of Hone and the humane way he did a mihi for the dead Osama. He didn't say he supported him - he simply acknowledged him. the word 'acknowledge'is a polite word and could be used in reference to anyone, as well as your enemy!
    I think Scotty Morrison set him up - it's not the first time he's done it!
    Osama was a mass murderer for sure but did Al Qaeda actually take responsibility for 9/11?

  11. So why did Hone apologise, instead of pointing out what Mel said above?

  12. How many middle east ppl have died from western invasions? How many indigenous peoples? A much larged debate on war needs to be happening.

  13. It could perhaps also be said that Obama and Key are arrogant.

  14. I heard you on Radio New Zealand National yesterday, you were absolutely excellent. I had never heard of you until yesterday. I'm white, but as a second year law student I am interested in your point of view. I'm going to keep a wee eye on your blog from now on.

    Kind regards,


  15. Its a technicality to say that Hone doesn't support Bin Laden's ways. Hone's mihi acknowledging Bin Laden was at the very least unwise if he wants voters to come to him he needs to keep his personal leanings of anti-establishment muted. Non Muslims were Bin Laden's enemy & convert or die his philosophy.

  16. Mel I trie to watch but appears it has been censored out now as no sign of Hone

  17. Morgan - Hone's words were quite simply "taken out of context". But I would like people to consider how the story broke. On the Monday of that week, Hone provided a mihi to Bin Laden on Native Affairs. He does the same on Te Karere on the Wednesday night, and then shortly after goes head to head with Don Brash. Brash gets a licking and then the story breaks in the NZ Herald the following morning.

    Now I am not a conspiracy theorist but many people believe that mainstream media, in particular right-wing media, for obvious reasons, are running a campaign against Hone. The NZ Herald have been consistent in that respect. Claire Trevett and Co have written off Mana from day one. Hardly what you could call "unbiased" media now, is it?

  18. Morgan is spot on even if it was a deliberately leading question. FYI in 1945 the Irish government (which was neutral throughout WW2) sent formal notices of condolences to the German embassy following Hitler's death. In terms of diplomatic protocol doing so was not unreasonable but in the context of Hitler's life and what was already common knowledge about the death camps it was an unforgiveably crass move. So too with Hone's comments however respectful. Bin Laden was a mass murderer full stop

  19. The problem with the whole US "terrorist" narrative is that, all too often, the very actions we might use to identify someone as such can equally be applied to the US.

    The US has a long documented history of invasion, occupation, imperialism, regime change, political assignations, support for dictators and military regimes.

    So while we should point out that Osama killed innocent civilians, we should also remember that a significant number of Iraqi, Afghani and Pakistani civilians have died, directly or indirectly as a result of US operations in that theater since the first Gulf War. Some 900 Afghani and Pakistani civilians were killed during drone attacks in 2010 alone yet western media are mostly indifferent in their attitudes toward this. In our rush to demonize Osama we appear to also be happy to excuse this hypocrisy.

    Osama killed significantly less civilians than GWB did during his presidency.

    For me personally, this "good guy/bad guy" narrative leaves much to be desired. Osama was by and large a product of US anti-Sovietism - a strategy pursued by the US to recruit popular resentment in Afghanistan against Soviet intervention. Modern terrorism is largely a US strategy that has backfired.

    I’m not saying that Osama should be regarded as some kind of poster boy for indigenous struggles, but those of us who are interested in these struggles ought to be aware of the vested interests behind the message being supplied by the corporate media.

    We should probably remember that, in spite of a number of Native American groups who have recently criticized the use of "Geronimo" as the name for this mission (a criticism which I actually support), the irony is that Geronimo was often subject to language in his day that might be interpreted to mean "terrorist" (or something close to it) today.

    Perhaps it is this that Hone picked up on? The connection certainly wasn’t lost on Ranginui Walker who mentioned that Te Kooti was initially supported for his role in fighting alongside government forces but then hunted when this government strategy backfired.

  20. Bin Laden, Geronimo, Te Kooti, Mandela, Sein Fein & countless others all have had their valid reasons for being & doing what they did. We can agree with them till the cows come home & easily debate it over a coffee in the security of our lounge or university until it affects us personally then our whole view will change. I admit they have a point but that's as far as I go because the next thing that will happen is someone will invite them to my place & they will try to change my life to what they think I should be. No thanks I'm happily separate from their life struggle while I struggle to pay my petrol bill. The truth is as in Egypt, Iraq, Iran & USA & others there is no magic answer there is no one person who will supply the promise of a better life. The reality of trying to institute the better life is always harder in reality than over a coffee, just ask the Maori party or Pam Corkery or any number of people who got into politics for the "right" reasons & realised its not easy to ring in change. The truth is that compromise is life as we know it Captain!

  21. oh, please! it's one thing to hate the joy at a death, or to be opposed to the extra-legal US action, quite another to find anything good about bin Laden. Not a fan of Tau Henare but he was right to say no-one from the Maori battalion mourned Hitler. You or I can make off the cuff remarks but if you want to lead aparty you need the sort of discipline that Hone simply does not possess.

  22. I don't believe it's got anything to do with what he said or how he handled it,it's actually how the media wants you to perceive Maori leaders and Maori in general,but it does make him an easy target by the same token it shows that he is not afraid to speak his mind despite the crap the white media throw at him



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