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Journal paper explores Māori activist Tame Iti's portrayal

A journal article published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies provides a detailed exploration of Māori activist Tame Iti and the multifaceted ways he has been represented in the New Zealand media over the past four decades, a process that has led to his celebritization as an indigenous activist. The article is co-authored by Professor Julie Cupples from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences.

The article, entitled “The celebritization of indigenous activism: Tame Iti as media figure”, was authored by former New Zealand academics, Julie Cupples and Kevin Glynn (now at Northumbria University) and was funded by the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

It is based on fieldwork in the Tūhoe nation and on analysis of the many news reports, documentaries and television shows in which Iti has appeared over the past four decades and explores a number of the highly mediated struggles in which Iti has participated. These include Nga Tamatoa in the 1970s, the protests against the South African rugby tour during the apartheid era, the so-called fiscal envelope fiasco, the theatrical enactment of the 1860 scorched-earth policy on the confiscation line in Taneatua in 2005, and the Urewera terror raids of 2007 that resulted in Iti’s incarceration.

The article notes the dramatic shift in the media framing of Iti in the years following the terror raids. It discusses not only how the New Zealand media have framed Iti, but also how Iti and other Māori have struggled through media and beyond against ongoing forms of racism and coloniality.

The article provides in-depth insight not only into New Zealand’s best known Māori activist, but also into how the New Zealand media have shifted as a consequence of struggles for and over cultural and political gains by Māori during recent decades, and how Iti has functioned as a mobilizing media figure for both Māori and Pākehā New Zealanders to engage with the colonial past and present.

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