Iti whanau seeks image’s destruction

Date published: July 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Comments

WHANAU of jailed Tuhoe activist Tame Iti have threatened legal action if any remaining images blending Tame Iti and Osama bin Laden are not destroyed.
Maria Steens, Iti’s wife, has written on behalf of his whanau to New Zealand Fashion Week managing director Dame Pieter Stewart warning her the image, scheduled to appear in NZFW’s September show, is defamatory of Iti.
“It links him to a mass murderer, an ideological extremist and all the negative stereotypes associated with Osama bin Laden,” Ms Steens said.
The image was created by Maori artist Hohepa Thompson. It contributed to him earning second place in the Miromoda Maori fashion design competition this month.
Ms Steens said “in no way” did the image reflect the lifelong work of Iti and his quest for mana motuhake (autonomy) for Tuhoe.
The image involved used Iti’s intellectual property – his ta moko.
Ms Steens’ warned damages would be sought from the creator of the image and anyone showing it for the defamation and harm doing so would cause to Iti’s character.
She sought an immediate undertaking that the image would be removed from public exhibition and the destruction of all remaining copies.
“Failure to do so will result in proceedings being issued and an injunction preventing further showing of the image.”
Dame Pieter could not be reached yesterday afternoon and neither could artist Hohepa Thompson.
Miromoda co-founder Ata Te Kanawa said from Wellington that Thompson had addressed criticism of his design on social and news websites and this satisfied the concern of many who initially took offence.
Bin Laden claimed responsibility on behalf of Muslim terror network Al Qaeda for the September 11, 2001, attack on New York’s World Trade Centre and other United States’ targets.
Iti’s lawyer, Russell Fairbrother, who visited Iti in Waikeria Prison yesterday, said his client was taking legal advice about the image.
Mr Fairbrother said he was aware whanau were taking action to curtail the image’s use, and confirmed Iti found it offensive.
Mr Fairbrother said Iti was “very positive” and making the best of his predicament.
He was giving tikanga Maori lessons to other prisoners and showing leadership.
“He still can’t work out why he’s in prison,” Mr Fairbrother said.
His appeal of the 30-month sentence handed down for firearms offences that arose from the 2007 terror raids would be heard in the Court of Appeal on August 22.

Source: Whakatane Beacon