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High Court Allows Tame Iti To Travel To Europe

Tame Iti Goes To Europe In Tempest

Scoop Editor's Note: The High Court in Auckland has relaxed bail conditions to allow Tame Iti to travel to Europe to play a part in a play that ironically explores sovereignty issues and unlawful detention in an uneasy post 9/11 world. Tame Iti, a veteran Maori activist, was arrested in Ruatoki on October 15 2007 during the so-called anti-terror raids and was later released on bail. Conclusion of his case is pending. Image credit: Tame Iti, courtesy of Lemi Ponifasio of


News Report: By Lena Maria Fa'asino

Choreographer Lemi Ponifasio has convinced the New Zealand High Court to allow the detained Maori activist, Tame Iti, to travel with his dance company MAU on its tour of Tempest in Europe.

Tempest was premiered in Vienna, in May last year and the planned tour of Europe this year had been uncertain since the October 15 anti terror raids and the arrest of Tame Iti in Ruatoki.

Lemi Ponifasio said, "This decision celebrates the process of non-violent insight, compassion, mutual recognition and inspired exchange that the arts can offer."

Affidavits in support of MAU from international arts organizations were also submitted as evidence to the High Court.

"It was a beautiful hearing. The judge was beautiful, even the police were elegant and supportive of our work," says Ponifasio.

MAU, New Zealand's leading dance company internationally will stage Tempest II at prestigious art festivals in its European tour including the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels and the London International Festival of Theatre at the Southbank Centre, London.

Tame Iti performs the main role in Tempest. The work was built around him since 2005 concerning issues of sovereignty and unlawful detention in an uneasy post 9/11 world. Tempest also features the recently freed refugee Ahmed Zaoui. [Scoop Editor's Note: Ahmed Zaoui appears in a video screening in the background and is not travelling with Tame Iti.]

Tame Iti has been granted leave to travel with the Tempest production, while adhering to a strict itinerary avoiding any communications or activities outside his purpose as a performer with MAU.

Ponifasio had feared crippling legal and financial difficulties ahead for MAU if the tour were to be cancelled. MAU schedule this year also includes the Lincoln Center, New York staging of Ponifasio's recent work Requiem, originally commissioned by the city of Vienna to celebrate Mozart's 250th anniversary.

Cancellation of these high-profile performances would have seriously damaged MAU's international reputation as one of the major attractions on the A list of the international performing arts circuit.

Lemi Ponifasio and his company MAU have represented New Zealand at major international events including the Venice Biennale, Vienna Festival, Theatre Der Welt, the Southbank Centre London and the Holland Festival.

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