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Tame Iti

  • October 16th, 2007

A 300 police counter-terrorism raid in New Zealand as item 4 on the BBC World news certainly gets the attention of a kiwi channel surfing on the first cold evening of a Greek autumn. I guess it seems no more real in NZ than on the peaceful island of Kos.

I last met Tame Iti several months ago as a co-guest on Willie Jackson’s ‘Eye-to-Eye’. I had looked forward to it. My previous conversations with him had been civil despite him telling people he held me personally responsible for his last Arms Act prosecution.

I did hound the Minister of Police in Parliament for the failure to charge Tame Iti for firing a shotgun to frighten Waitangi Tribunal members. My concern was not about the incident, but about unfairness. A farmer stepping out with an unloaded shotgun to investigate noises on his lonely porch late at night would be charged if unwelcome visitors complained. If Tame Iti was immune when he actually fired the weapon, I asked whether the Police were going to abandon their discredited charging policy? Juries almost always refuse to convict on such prosecutions.

I later had some businesslike even friendly conversations with him, as we tried to find a sponsor to fund him to Wellington to debate the issues with me face to face. It got too hard when he required payment for time off work.

The feeling was completely different in the Green Room at TVNZ’s studio a few months ago. He was pointedly cold. He was frosty to the other whitey Willie had arranged to set up the common pattern of that show, but when I went over to exchange the courtesies that are normal off camera, Iti told me I was going to “pay for” having got the cops to prosecute him. He would not be specific. He tried to avoid further conversation.

I asked him how he expected to get attention as a demonstrator if the State he was needling simply ignored otherwise unlawful activity. I recalled that in my demonstrating days hostility from the authorities was essential to making a demo effective.

Iti stayed meaningfully silent.

I put it down to his desire for the gravitas thought to accompany menace.

I was a student at a time when young ‘revolutionaries’ strived for Che/Lenin mien. Essentially it involved a permanently grave look, softening at suitably rare intervals to wise sorrow at the thought of the desperate deeds demanded in the near future. Also permissable was righteous rage (as long as it was cold). The gravity could also deepen to a lemon sucking frown if anyone near was frivolous enough to laugh or to show warmth or affection.

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps he was savouring the thought that he would show us all in the near future. Certainly his gnomic utterances on the show that evening did not show much interest in the persuasion that democracy requires.


  • stan
  • October 17th, 2007
  • 9:01 am

Left-wingers are idiots who can’t hold logical debate.

For those bored enough to read pages of debate, see this discussion on Steve Forbes:


Tame Iti’s response as to you is the thing that I find most frustrating about political disagreement. I believe passionately in my causes, those who hold different views are wrong and in some instances their being wrong is immoral and unjust yet despite this I would never be uncivil or cold to them.

We are people, we all have that much in common. If we forget that then we miss a lot of the point to why we take up causes in the first place. There are always some issues we can agree on – with some people you have to do quite a bit of examination to discover some point of agreement but it is there with everyone.

“Causes worth dying for” are an important part of living, of having something to live for. Whether your cause is your family and friends or some political or moral ideal if you don’t burn for something then you might as well be dead – I get where Tame Iti and others are coming from, why they are so passionate even if I might disagree with them on some issues but at the point you make your cause everything, you lose the ability to be civil, you have crossed the line.

Committed people who know what they believe and why they believe it and want to do something about it are people I respect even when I disagree with them but the ones who make their causes all that they are are just beyond it. Those who, if you disagree with them, instantly hate you and bristle and froth at the mouth are just so irritating and immature and pathetic.

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