Hone Harawira has reportedly sent an email to the Maori Party apologising ‘unreservedly’ for any harm he had done to it in his ‘choice of words’ to former Waitangi Tribunal director Buddy Mikaere. The ‘choice of words’ included ‘white man bullshit’ and ‘white motherfuckers’. I was reminded by these events of my Northern Irish Protestant mother’s uncharitable interpretation of confession in the Roman Catholic church – that you could sin on Monday, confess on Tuesday, commit the same sin on Wednesday and so ad infinitum. Confession of that sort would be worthless since it would not be motivated by genuine remorse or real intention to change one’s ways, but would simply be a device to get oneself off the hook.
Hide and Harawira’s ‘apologies’ strike me as equally worthless.
Harawira may actually be less culpable than Hide, since his outburst was motivated by the rage against Pakeha which flows in the very veins of the Harawira family. There was passion in it. He may also feel genuine remorse for any harm his words may have done to the Maori Party, and it is solely to them that his ‘unreserved’ apology is directed. No one who has followed his career could possibly believe that ‘white man bullshit’ and ‘white motherfuckers’ were anything other than true expressions of his feelings towards the European colonists of Aotearoa. Hide is a different cup of tea. His apology is worthless because it lacks credibility. He has apparently had an epiphany. He wants us to believe that for an entire week he believed he had done nothing wrong. Then the light suddenly came on and he realised that tripping around the world with his girlfriend at taxpayers’ expense ‘was wrong’. He wants us to believe that he had been blinded by ‘the challenge, the hard work and the excitement’ of his ministerial job’ and had ‘lost sight of’ the awareness that every dollar the Government spent came out of the pocket of a New Zealander.
This is the equivalent of a policeman saying that ‘because of the challenge, the hard work and the excitement of his job’ he momentarily ‘lost sight of’ the fact that it was illegal to shoplift. Not breaking the law would always be uppermost in a policeman’s mind. Not ripping off the taxpayer would always be uppermost in ‘perkbuster’ Rodney Hide’s mind, and it is inconceivable that he did not consider the wisdom or the morality of what he was doing when he decided to charge the taxpayer for his girl-friend-accompanied trips to Europe, the US and Hawaii. He did and he calculated the risk as low. He was wrong. These apologies have nothing to do with remorse. They are self-serving and self-interested responses to public and media outrage designed to salvage Hide’s and Harawira’s reputations and make things right with the public, their parties and coalition partners. Harawira will no doubt be taken back into the Maori Party fold, but, if immediate public reaction to his declaration of ‘remorse’ is anything to go by, it is extremely doubtful whether Hide will ever be able to salvage his reputation.