Photograph of Tame Iti outside High Court
An art auction held to raise money for the appeal of Maori activist Tame Iti managed to raise almost $80,000. This money will help Iti in appealing his conviction which resulted from the 2007 Urewera Raids.
The activist was arrested along with several others in a widespread police raid which discovered an alleged military-style training camp in the Urewera region. Iti was charged with belonging to a criminal group and was found guilty of some firearm charges in March of this year.
He is currently serving two and a half years at Waikeria prison for this, and the upcoming appeal is currently scheduled to begin on 22 August. The legal cost of the appeal was estimated to cost approximately $50,000, a fair bit below the amount that was ultimately raised as a result of the auction.
Artists who donated work to the auction included Iti himself, Dean Buchanan, Shane Cotton and Cut Collective. A painting by Cotton received the highest bid of the night at $10,400.
Speaking from prison, Iti revealed that he is very "pleased" with the result.
'If there is one positive thing to come out my situation it is that it has unified people, and for that I am very happy,' he said
The auction was organised by Iti’s son, Wairere, who managed to organise the entire event in just four weeks. According to him, the auction was an opportunity for his father to "give back" to the community that has shown him so much support.
'This auction is kind of an opportunity for people to see that, actually, he has kind of contributed quite a bit,' Wairere said
Notable works which appeared at the auction included Te Whai A Te Motu
by Tame Iti, Study of a New Zealand flag
by Billy Apple and Good Blood
by John Pule.
Over 120 works were donated, although not all were sold due to time constraints.
'There was a great energy in the room and the bidding reflected how people felt about the cause,' Art and Objects auctioneer James Parkinson said.
Iti is a renowned Maori activist who grew up in the Urewera area. In the 1970s, Iti was heavily involved in protests against the Vietnam War and the South African apartheid. He has worked as both a DJ and an artist, and has also stood for Parliament as a candidate of Mana Māori in the 1996, 1999 and 2002 New Zealand general elections.