Tame Iti - Hero of the Week | The Jackal

22 Mar 2012

Tame Iti - Hero of the Week

Now that the Urewera 4 have been largely vindicated, with the crowns initial claims that they were "terrorists" or part of a criminal gang falling over, let's just recap on five years of state repression likely to set Tuhoe and Crown relations back decades.

In many respects the debacle being played out in the public arena turned into a clash of cultures, where people brought up in a mollycoddled urban setting uttered their outrage at the allegations when there were perfectly reasonable explanations.

And how much real crime went undetected across New Zealand while police resources were being wasted I wonder... and what is the actual cost?

Clearly the Crowns actions were unjustified, and I'm not happy paying taxes for that kind of carryon. Considering these facts you would think the anti Maori spin might stop now that there's been some closure. Unfortunately that's not the case.

Yesterday, stuff.co.nz reported:

The Crown, however, has a different view of him. Through a prolonged legal battle over the past five years, it has cast him as a dangerous proto-terrorist intent on infecting New Zealand with an armed struggle against the state.

Whatever the truth, being the lead actor at the heart of such political and judicial drama would have catapulted most people to the forefront of the ranks of the discontented and cemented Iti as a rallying point for the simmering discontent of Maori, ready to boil over.

Whatever the truth? The truth of the matter was that the terrorism claims were thrown out the door ages ago because they were baseless accusations devised from improper Police work and speculating politicians.

We don't need any more propaganda that grossly over-exaggerates the potential for a violent Maori revolution. Such baseless claims have clearly been proven incorrect.

Instead, Iti appears to occupy an ambivalent place in the view of wider Maoridom. Some say he is at most a marginal martyr, a bit player at the sides. His behaviour is seen as theatrical antics to gain attention that is no longer needed. Iti is no revolutionary, it seems. Instead, say some Maori, he is something of an anachronism.

They say the real revolutionaries of Maori aspirations are in suits, carrying law or business degrees, and storming the walls of Pakeha capitalism with no time for distracting sideshows.

What "they" say has very little relevance with reality it would seem. Firstly Tame Iti is a well-respected revolutionary who has worked tirelessly for his people. To say that he has been inconsistent in that activism is an insult not just to him, but to Maoridom.

Moari aspirations, which are based on equality, accountability and fairness, are New Zealand's aspirations. Read our founding document Te Tiriti o Waitangi (PDF), if you think otherwise.

The so-called anti terror raids of 15 October 2007 and the initial charges laid were unjustified. They were a fishing expedition that detrimentally impacted on thousands of innocent people. After boasting they'd caught the big one, the Police came back with a few firearms charges. Surely the Crown should acknowledge their heavy-handed mistakes with a formal apology?

Tame Iti as the most recognizable face of the Urewera raids, like all the other people impacted, has been hurt. His actions to date prove that he wont let that hurt turn to hatred though. Instead he will further the peaceful revolution that is obviously required... and for that he is most assuredly a Hero.