Māori activist Tāme Iti calls on rangatahi to have a say in Waitangi protest

A simple post on Facebook one month ago invited anyone who wanted to be part of an art protest to come to Waitangi.

The post called for people to dress in black or white and to bring a white flag. The call was from Māori activist Tāme Iti, and of course, the people came.

Many of those attending hadn't been to Waitangi before but told Newshub they felt compelled to be there. They came from across the motu to be with Iti.

"There were many people that spoke to me and told me that they want to come," Tāme said.

"How does that make you feel in you manawa your heart to see them here today?" Newshub asked.

"There is hope for a change in this country," he responded.

The white flags signalled a blank canvas or a fresh start, but not the sort of fresh start the Coalition Government is talking about.

"I don't really care about the Government, or what they are going to do, it's not my issue. We're just going to carry on and be who we are," he said.

While the hikoi also honoured Ngā Tamatoa, Māori protest of the past 50 years, the spirit of the hikoi was all about unity and peace.

"Who would've thought aye? Tāme Iti would be the peacemaker?" Mike King laughed.

"We walk together, we walk together," Tāme spoke into the megaphone.

Young and old were seen marching together.

"Mana tū, mana toa mana ake ake," they chanted, acknowledging previous Māori triumphs.

Hundreds more who had come to watch were compelled to join in, like Moananui Davis.

"I'm very overwhelmed, it's quite heartfelt. I don't agree with the things that are going on with politics a the moment so I agree with his kōrero," Davis told Newshub.

"There's so many people, and they're my people. I'm proud to be Māori," she said.

With the hikoi now two or three times its original size, the art protest painted a powerful picture, even if no one really knew how it would end up looking.

"What happens at the end?" Newshub asked King.

"I have no clue, but it's going to be awesome," he laughed.

The protestors, holding their white flags, rose as one on the crest of the upper Treaty Grounds, complete with an accompanying soundtrack. It was awesome.

Among those leading the group onto the pae, were Iti's own mokopuna.

"I thought the piece spoke for itself and so I thought I'd do my kōrero through my body movement and that's exactly what I did I spoke with my body," Tāme's grandson Te Rangi Moaho Iti explained to Newshub.

The tāonga made by Tāme Iti was on display.
The tāonga made by Tāme Iti was on display. Photo credit: Newshub

A tāonga made by Tāme celebrated Ngā Tamatoa and unveiled a form of protest he believes may be better suited for today's young Māori.

"It's a new breed, smart, they don't carry the trauma that we carry, it's a new breed coming up. I'm so excited," Tāme said.