The Maori Party has kept a low profile over the arrest of anti-whaling campaigner Pete Bethune… until today.
Maori MP Hone Harawira says Mr Bethune is a hero.
Returning to New Zealand after a Japanese court handed down a two-year suspended jail sentence on several charges that followed his boarding of a whaling ship in the Southern Ocean, Mr Bethune on Monday criticised the New Zealand Government for its lack of political support and said he was “disgusted” with the way Foreign Minister Murray McCully had sided with his accusers.
“New Zealand has become like a fat little lap dog. We should be standing up for ourselves,” he said.
Prime Minister John Key said Mr Bethune was downright ungrateful for all the support he had received.
Mr Harawira, in a weekly column, said Mr Bethune had put his freedom and life on the line.
“He was bloody lucky to get off, but I’m really glad for him and his family, and for the anti-whaling campaign that he did. The man’s a real hero in my book.”
Mr Harawira said his party had been “a bit quiet” on Japanese whaling. He said Maori had a special relationship with whales; guarded their right to harvest stranded whales and supported rights of indigenous people internationally to exercise their traditional whaling.
“But Maori have never, we do not, and we never will support the right of Japanese whaling companies to swoop down into our southern oceans to slaughter these gentle children of Tangaroa.
“If the Japanese want to kill whales, do it in their own territory. And when they run out because they’ve killed them all, then stop. We don’t want them to come down into our seas to chase, terrorise, harpoon, maim, and slaughter our cousins of the deep. Those iwi leaders who say they support them, speak for themselves and their own private financial arrangements. They do not speak for the great majority of Maori people.”