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Meet the Harawiras

Tuesday 5 Feb 2013 6:00 p.m.

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For better or worse – which may depend on who you ask – the name Harawira has become synonymous with Waitangi.

Hone Harawira's wife Hilda and sister Hinewhare surrounded their matriarch, Titewhai Harawira, at Waitangi – fighting with her to escort the Prime Minister.

The Harawira family is as much a part of Waitangi as protest has become, and more often than not where there's protest, there's a Harawira.

Last year, Hone's nephews – the Popata brothers – led the charge against the Prime Minister.

Yesterday, Hone’s brother, Arthur Harawira, was involved in a challenge that got out of control during the Governor-General's powhiri.

Hone says the Maori community respects the right to protest.

“Protest activity is honourable in Maori circles,” he says.

His sister, Hinewhare, is the eldest of the eight children, and has an anti-violence stall at Waitangi.

Then there’s Tai Harawira, another brother.

“I’m a watchman for the house of Israel,” he says.

He also has tent at Waitangi, and credits the family's fight to its matriarch.

“She taught us – listen with our eyes.”

And the veteran Maori rights activist couldn't be prouder of her brood, describing them as “absolutely brilliant”.

In 1989 she served a nine-month jail term for assaulting a psychiatric patient in her care, and in 1998 she reduced Prime Minister Helen Clark to tears by not letting her speak at Waitangi.

Perhaps that’s the reason John Key acts nice.

“She's a nice old lady,” he says.

But one man's nice old lady is another man's bully.

“They tend to think – if you challenge them you better watch out,” says Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua.

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