Tame Iti: planting the seeds of self-determination

By Te Kāea

Is Waitangi Day in danger of losing its activist edge? This year’s celebrations were low key, with hardcore protesters visibly absent.  Te Kāea spoke to renowned Tuhoe activist, Tame Iti about what activism and the fight for self-determination means to him today.

Iti is no stranger to controversy- famously baring his buttocks to Crown representatives and firing a shotgun into a New Zealand flag before a Waitangi Tribunal hearing in Ruatoki in 2005.   

“I was spitting at the Crown to be rebellious, to show contempt, to release a belly full of anger,” says Iti. 

But have the years eased the fire in his belly?

“I am done with it for now- those are my thoughts, I am not talking about anyone else- that was the home of protest, we didn't go there to lick their bottoms.”

His vision now is to implement self-determination on his own whenua.

“I grew up in a self sufficient environment, feeding pigs, ducks, turkeys- [growing] sugarcane, kumara, all types of potatoes here in Ruatoki.

“There was no Pak’n’Save back then.”

Support is also beginning to bloom in the community.  

“They say ‘your garden is growing well!’- this is what the essence of autonomy is all about.  It's not with the government or Waitangi or  throwing stones-  it's about projects close to your home.”