Tame Iti should apologise for the trouble he brought upon the Tuhoe people. The police raids were not without cause – and Tame Iti bears prime responsibility. Iti and his colleagues in crime were were found guilty by a jury. He and the media treating him like some Maori Mandela seem to have forgotten that.
The High Court judge who sentenced Iti and his colleagues to a term of imprisonment summed up the situation perfectly. Justice Hansen described the “bushcraft” explanations provided by Iti for his paramilitary activities in the Ureweras as “utterly implausible”. He went on to note that,
“As I view the evidence, in effect a private militia was being established. Whatever the justification, that is a frightening prospect in our society, undermining of our democratic institutions and anathema to our way of life.” NZ Herald 14.02.13
Justice Hansen said he could not understand why Tame Iti was developing “military capability” at the same time as negotiating Tuhoe claims before the Waitangi Tribunal. Hansen further noted that the media focus on police actions,
“…should not divert attention from the unlawful activities which necessitated the investigation in the first place.”
The Police Commissioner and now the Minister of Police, have both apologised for police actions which overstepped the mark in the Urewera raids. Will the media now turn their attention to the one who caused all the angst and drama (and taxpayer cost) in the first place?
In spite of the provocative and stupid actions of Tame Iti and co. the Crown has had the good grace and sense to progress settlement negotiations with Tuhoe to a successful conclusion. Historic injustices have been addressed with financial compensation of $170million, vesting of Te Urewera National Park in a new entity overseen by Tuhoe, and a formal Crown apology for its past actions.
So the Crown has taken responsibility for its actions, made redress, and apologised. Will Tame Iti ?