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Indigenous | Tame Iti

Tame Iti challenges te iwi Māori

A call to “be more creative’ has been laid out to Māori by one of their biggest protesting figures.

Māori rights activist Tame Iti has been a leading figure in Māoridom for the past 50 years, walking alongside members of Ngā Tamatoa for the rights of Māori in the 1970′s, leading the Mana Motuhake movement in the 1990′s and 2000′s and recently portraying his perspectives through art.

Iti believes engagement with the people is the way to showing a united front on beliefs and opinions that Māori hold.

“I think we have to be more creative about how we approach and present our thoughts and ideas. We talk too much, same old, same old stories. Te taumata o te pae, is the same old stuff. We need to find another approach to it, in the utilisation of our ātea, so we’re able to include people. I don’t want to take a thousand people over there to be part of Waitangi, and listen to the same old sh**. We want to bring people there to have an experience, and let them be part of it,” he says.

Protests are different

On Monday Iti led a group of people waving what he calls ‘Haki Ātea’ (Blank Canvas’) onto Waitangi in a special pōwhiri, welcoming Iti back to the grounds on behalf of Ngā Tamatoa.

He says that his approach to protests are different from when he was younger.

“It’s a lot smarter, and you can reach out to a lot more people. Now people who don’t normally talk to me are now talking to me. So that’s a tick box for me. We’ve got to work on things that work for us, and work for them. I’m more interested in trying to bring the people, ordinary people from on the street to understand Te Tiriti than trying to talk to some dumba** politician. It’s a waste of time,”

Waitangi Day celebrations saw 20,000 people gather on the Treaty grounds in Waitangi, to take part in a movement rebuking the government’s stand on Māori issues and policies.

Iti says the movement is a step in the right direction in his opinion, gathering a majority rather than winning politicians.

“I don’t think we should rely upon having these conversations with the government...I’m only interested in engagement with the masses of Aotearoa because they are the people that we need to work on. Politicians are only there for a short time. Three years, kua mutu. I’ve been there longer than they have been, any one of them put together,”