Tame Iti the Terrorist

I have observed Tame iti from a distance and met him once. Tame iti scares the hell out of many New Zealanders, his full face moko, his bum baring, spitting and his shooting of the flag understandably cause discomfort. He is a passionate advocate for Tuhoe and knows that if you want to get media attention for your cause, but do not have heaps of cash, then theatre and outrageous behaviour gets you noticed. It is easy for many to label him a dangerous terrorist but he is also a 55 year old, caring family man and a diabetic.

I have no doubt that the New Zealand police had intercepted some worrying communications and that it could easily be construed that "terrorist" training was happening in the Urewera bush. I also believe that his training camps were poorly thought through, fantasist and probably a bit silly, especially when he knew he has been a closely watched man for many years and it wouldn't be likely that any of his activity would go unnoticed. In the US playing with guns is imbedded in their culture but in New Zealand any gun activity that doesn't involve hunting or organised sport would be cause for concern.

The big question is not so much Tame iti's behaviour but the police management of the situation. Tame iti is a media personality who has connections and relationships with a broad cross-section of society and has even had Gerry Brownlee open one of his art exhibitions. As Tame iti said on Q&A this morning, his phone number is in the book.

New Zealand is not a large nation and our whole country often operates as one community, we do have disagreements but most can be solved if a low level approach is taken and there is open dialogue. The wide ranging, expensive and over the top police response looked more like an exercise for frustrated squads who have few opportunities to put their training into practice. Those who were targeted were often loosely connected to Tame iti and many were environmental activists. That innocent children and families were confronted with such organised violence by the police was unethical and abhorrent. A cynic could construe that there was a deliberate intention to rough up and frighten as many annoying activists as possible and the anti-terrorist legislation provided a useful opportunity.

If the police had picked up the phone or visited Tame iti early on and expressed their concerns about his activities I'm am quite sure they could have achieved a quick resolution. It could have been that simple.


It is over five months since I wrote this post and since then I have read "The Day The Raids Came", edited by Valerie Morse and records the personal accounts of those raided. I have also read many of the leaked transcripts and watched the video clips of the supposed terrorist training. I still see no reason to change what I wrote, a quiet chat or a phone call would have sorted it.
Now it is post trial and the four accused have only been charged with a few firearms offenses. The jury could not decide if the intent of the group posed any real threat to the public. What a monumental waste of time and money!


jh said…
I don't think people are afraid of Tame iti they just see the adoption of the left (and Green Party) of Maori nationalism as a backward step.
bsprout said…
Hi jh, if you read the about the history of Tuhoe you would have a greater understanding of their perspective. Your perception of what most Maori want is a little on the extreme side.
bsprout said…
So it is Robert, my reo is appalling,
robertguyton said…
"scares the hell out off many New Zealanders,"

So's your English :-)
bsprout said…
I think I need a full time proof reader, I have had offers. :-)
jh said…
"The big question is not so much Tame iti's behaviour but the police management of the situation."
"The man attended the camp in the Urewera Ranges after an invitation from Tuhoe activists, but only went once after being "overwhelmed" and "a bit freaked out" by their military-style practices, the source said."

I would say the support given by the Green Party is also an issue.
bsprout said…
I don't quite understand where you are coming from, Jh. If you read my blog you would have also read the following:

"I also believe that his training camps were poorly thought through, fantasist and a probably a bit silly..."

"...in New Zealand any gun activity that doesn't involve hunting or organised sport would be cause for concern."

What support for Tame iti are you referring to? I was criticising the level of action use by the police when a much lower level of intervention would have worked. The police action has cost tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars when a quick phone call would have surficed.
jh said…
There was a lot of Green Party support for Tame Iti and the people arrested in the raids.
Keith Locke said :
“I would feel more comfortable in the company of those arrested in the raids than I would among some of my fellow MP’s in Parliament”.* http://www.youtube.com/v/lyCA_h3pkgk
Meteria told supporters "we are winning the media war". Not to mention posts on Frogblog by Catherine Delahunty.
bsprout said…
Jh, as far as I know Tame iti hasn't broken down doors and terrorised innocent families and children with loaded weapons. The extreme behaviour shown by the police and supported by many MPs was a matter of concern, hence the comments you quote.
jh said…
evidence was that Tame and his group were planning RIA style terrorist attacks (murder). The police would have been damned if they did;damned if they didn't act. Keith was giving them (all) a character reference.
jh said…
"Tuhoe wouldn't have popular support for a bombing campaign in New Zealand."
Reply: "It would in Tuhoe though ... What about if we did a bombing campaign that blew up Waihopai spy base, power dams, gas facilities, TV stations and radios ... It's a strategy that's gonna be f...... urban warfare. We are training in the wrong place."
First speaker: "What's going to be the strategy?"
Reply: "Strategy will divide, will divide Aotearoa ... extreme violence and extreme f...... actions too."
bsprout said…
Crazy stuff for sure, Jh, I gather there was a lot of hot air recorded and this would have been a good time to make a phone call. I bet none of the environmentalists were involved in these conversations. It will be interesting to see how the court cases pan out and if this crazy talk is attributed to the final four.
anarkaytie said…
ahaa, I see jh has moved his trolling behaviour further afield than just frogblog.

Dave, you may find that reasonable, logical responses get nowhere with him, as the rest of us have, and that not feeding the troll works better.

Hungry trolls generally go somewhere else to feed, where they can find more easily impressed people who don't counter their trolling with facts.
bsprout said…
anarkaytie-Thanks for the advice, I am actually very familiar with jh from past Frogblog days, his redeeming feature is that he is a keen cyclist (if I remember rightly).

You are probably right about the feeding thing, I shouldn't have felt sorry for him, I don't think he has been fed for a while.
robertguyton said…
jh sometimes goes undercover in his missions to erode Green Party support, using the 'name' hj.
Don't be fooled by this cunning ploy bsprout - hj is jh in disguise!!!
The lengths he's willing to go to to remain anonymous! Sinister!
Kylie said…
I wonder if RG was the class clown at school? using humour to diffuse (and send his message). Always gives me a giggle. Thanks
paulinem said…
Sorry Dave i don't agree with your perspective of Tame iti ...lets not forget this is the guy that was trying to stop and demand money from people visiting the public national park in his area not so amny years ago .

If anyone else like a white power gang etc were running around with automatic weapons and throwing molotov cocktails; we would be demanding the police take action. So why do you see Tama iti should be treated any different, to any other NZer behaving like he was?

If Tama doesn't believe he is a Kiwi re not signing with the treaty etc, and should be treated different to anyone else, then the answers simple don't expect to enjoy the benefits of being a Kiwi. Such as the benefits of our welfare system, education, health road works etc etc.

Sorry Dave is this case I believe the police had not choice and I hope Tama and friends get the full force of the legal system on them.

Lets not forget the others picked up only got off being tried for terrorism on a technicality. Tama and friends were not found not guilty either of terrorism only a hung jury ie no verdict.

Rememebr the police comments about Tama iti re his media personality. The police said the personal frontage we see in the media is NOT the frontage they have to deal with ie he has two personalities one for the media and one for those in authority.
bsprout said…
Pauline, I always believe that one should always attempt to solve issues at the lowest level first before resorting to heavy handed responses. I have never attempted to defend what Tame was doing but it is becoming more obvious the the police response was over the top. Most of the people they raided were only loosely involved with Tame and had no more against them than being environmental activists.
Shunda barunda said…
If Tame was white, he would be labelled a dangerous racist by the likes of bsprout etc.

This guy is not freedom fighter, he is an angry man full of hate.

You are a fool to be an apologist for such appalling and dangerous behaviour.
bsprout said…
hmm, Shunda, you obviously didn't understand what I had written, my post was about the police management of the situation and level of risk Tame provided. You need to read my replies to jh, who also tried to accuse me of defending the actions of Tame.

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