Black suit & pōtae
Tāme Iti is perhaps most well known for his attention-grabbing protest strategies and his striking full-facial moko. He first became part of Ngā Tamatoa (The Warriors) in the 1970s. They promoted Māori language in schools and Māori autonomy over their lands and monies, and helped to organise the famous Land March of 1975, led by Dame Whina Cooper.
Known for performing whakapohane (the baring of buttocks) as a protest, Tāme was arrested after firing a rifle into a New Zealand flag during a Waitangi Tribunal hearing, and was arrested again amid a storm of controversy after police raids in the Urewera mountain range in 2007. Of the former event, he says: “We wanted them to feel the heat and smoke [of the 1860s East Cape War], and Tūhoe outrage and disgust at the way we have been treated for 200 years.”
Over the years Tāme has owned a restaurant serving traditional Māori food and an art gallery. In addition, he performed in Tempest by the dance company MAU, which toured Europe and was performed at the 2009 Auckland Arts Festival. He has also worked as a social worker for Tūhoe, helping combat drug and alcohol addictions.
Read more about wearing the colour black in the New Zealand Fashion Museum publication Black: The history of black in fashion, society and culture in New Zealand.
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