Report – by Alex Perrottet
Outspoken MP and long time Pacific issues advocate Hone Harawira has condemned the lack of Maori representation at this week’s Pacific Islands Forum – but is encouraged by the words of Ban Ki-moon on West Papua.
The leader of the recently formed Mana Party said there was nothing at the official opening of the Forum at the Cloud to suggest that it was held in Aotearoa.
“There was no karakia to start the process, no formalities,” he said. “Even the MCs were taken from the Pacific, which is fine, but there was no hint of Maori representation.”He said there should have been some indigenous representation from Australia as well as New Zealand.
“It was kind of embarrassing. Maori seemed to have been specifically excluded from the process.”
Harawira pointed out that there were no iwi leaders present, no representatives from Parliament such as Pita Sharples of the Maori Party, and not even the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, or the Maori King.
He also said there was no reason why Maori leaders could not be included in smaller meetings.
“I’ve attended these meetings in the past and they are usually more informal. This was very formal, very structured – and, dare I say it, very European,” he said.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully disagreed.
“I haven’t personally put together the invitation lists to the side events and so on, but I’m sure you’ll find there’s a very good range of representation of Maori,” he said.
“Seeing the welcome into the Cloud of the Pacific leaders and if you look at the other formal events that are taking place, you’ll see that Maori have quite a place.”
But Harawira said it seemed he and other leaders were intentionally left out.
“I am the leader of an independent party in the Parliament and I received no invitation to any meetings. When I asked to be included in official events, I was told: ‘You’re not part of the New Zealand delegation’,” he said.
“I’m very, very disappointed.”
West Papua encouraging
However, Harawira has taken heart from the words of the UN Secretary General over West Papua.
Yesterday Ban Ki-moon suggested West Papua should be included in the countries listed for decolonisation.
“It is a very strong comment, he is the first head of the UN to come out and say that,” he said. “I am encouraged that Ban Ki-moon has heard that much of the call.”
“They are a colonised nation – by Indonesia, in the first instance with the support of the US and since the 1970s with the support of New Zealand as well, through military training, police training and economic aid.
“This provides an opportunity for New Zealand to graceful withdraw ongoing support.”
He commended today’s statement on West Papua calling for New Zealand to assist.
“I support the call for a fact-finding mission and the investigation of abuses from all sides, and I support New Zealand terminating all military and police assistance to Indonesia.”
He also said Prime Minister John Key, as the new chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, should oversee the establishment of a formal dialogue between the indigenous people of West Papua and the Indonesian Government.
“It needs to have the view of putting an end to the human rights abuses of indigenous people and to establish a formal pathway of decolonisation and ultimately the exit of Indonesia from West Papua.”
McCully confirmed today that the West Papuan representatives would have their hearing.
“I have said hello to them and I have asked the director of our Pacific division to meet with them and I understand that’s happening,” he said.
However, he would not confirm whether New Zealand would take up the requested role of mediator or facilitator of West Papuan unity.
Alex Perrottet is contributing editor of Pacific Media Watch and chief reporter of the Pacific Media Centre’s Forum reporting team.