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Te Ururoa Flavell weighs in on the abuse of Tame Iti's image

Te Ururoa Flavell weighs in on the abuse of Tame Iti’s image

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Te Ururoa Flavell – Whakatane Beacon Article – Published Friday 10 August

The Olympics

Tena ano tatou katoa.  No doubt you will all be engrossed watching the Olympics these last few weeks.  We have to admire the performances of those athletes who even make it there.  There seems to be a huge gap even at that level between the champions and the rest but one must acknowledge all of those who made it sometimes against huge odds.  For many, the preparation has been years and it all comes down to one performance on the day.

It has been absolutely exciting to see our indigenous talent out there competing on the international field.  From Whakatane of course comes Lisa Carrington who qualified for the women’s kayak doubles on Thursday.   There’s Jade and Storm Uru in rowing; Heptathlete Sarah Cowley; BMX gold medal hopeful from Kawerau, Sarah Walker; Black Sticks stars, Melody Cooper and Kayla Sharland – and that’s just a start.  It is fantastic to see the talent, the competitive edge and the Olympic spirit out there, representing Aotearoa.   It makes me so proud to see our sporting heroes representing us so well – and of course with that we know is a huge amount of support from wh?nau and the greater community.

Tame Iti

I had the opportunity to visit my good friend Tame Iti in prison recently.  He is painting which is of course a passion and is keeping abreast of things going on in the world.  He is the sort of person who takes time for others and is always willing to share his knowledge of te ao Maori.  He told me about the activities the inmates did for Maori Language week which included a quiz night and Maori Language lessons which he thought was a real buzz.

I can say he was not happy about his image being plastered all over t shirts recently.  The t shirt showing his image looking like Osama Bin Laden was part of a collection which was runner-up in the T-shirt placement category of the 2012 Miromoda Maori Fashion Design Competition, which invites finalists to showcase their work at New Zealand Fashion Week.  It was reported that artist Hohepa Thompson drew inspiration from his personal struggle to find his Maori roots, his judgment clouded by negative stereotypes and media portrayal.  I think Tame had every right to be a bit hoha with this.  While there may well be multiple interpretations behind the portrayal of Tame as a terrorist, the t shirt did nothing to dispel the myths and misinformation around this case.  Even at a very basic level, the guy could have at least asked Tame for his approval to use his image.

Meanwhile from Prison Tame has created a new work “Te Whai A Te Motu” which will be part of a huge Art Auction in Auckland next week.  The calibre of artists who have donated their works for this auction are impressive; Shane Cotton, Emory Douglas, Dean Buchanan, Brett Graham, Charlotte Graham, Emily Karaka, John Miller, Neil Pardington, Saffronn Te Ratana to name a few of the 70 artist who have donated their works.  The proceeds from this auction will go towards Tame and Rangi’s appeal costs.  It is heartening to see this support and I wish Tame Rangi and their whanau all the best for the appeal hearing on the 22 August.

Te Ururoa Flavell MP Waiariki


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