May 12, 2021
Stolen chairs strike sparks in Tuhoe leadership row
Tūhoe artist Tame Iti’s latest protest work seems to have struck a raw nerve among some in the tribe.
Iti assembled 70 chairs and arranged them across the road from the Taneatua headquarters of tribal authority Te Uru Taumatua.
But when he went back for the performance part of the work – having kaumātua from different whānau sitting in them – most of the chairs had been taken.
The work referenced Te Whitu Tekau, the council of 70 established in 1872 to bring together marae and hapū from throughout Tūhoe.
Iti says the all-powerful chairperson seems to have replaced traditional ways in which hapū looked after their affairs.
"For me, it's really as an artist to provoke a conversation around our leadership and to ask questions – this is not pointing a finger at one person. This work is really pointing the finger at all of us. This installation enables us to ask the question of the situation, whether we follow the one chair or the 70 chairs? Do we need dictatorship?" he says.
Tame Iti says Te Uru Taumatua is running the tribe’s affairs by bullying any dissenting voices.
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