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'This is a health issue': Tame Iti on the latest COVID-19 protests and speaking with those opposing vaccine mandates

Newshub logo Newshub 15/11/2021 Mihingarangi Forbes
Watch: Tame Iti on the latest COVID-19 protests and speaking with those opposing vaccine mandates. © The Hui Watch: Tame Iti on the latest COVID-19 protests and speaking with those opposing vaccine mandates.


Tame Iti is one of the most iconic figures of resistance in te ao Māori.

An artist, activist, and advocate for Māori rights, Iti has been at the forefront of many protest movements.

Some New Zealanders have been fiercely protesting vaccine mandates, many of which come into force this week, saying "coercion is not consent" and there should be freedom of choice.

Iti says he's been speaking with people who oppose vaccine mandates.

"I've been having a lot of debate with these people and trying to teach them how to breathe because it's time to convince people that this is a health issue. You can't mix it," he tells The Hui.

'This is a health issue': Tame Iti on the latest COVID-19 protests and speaking with those opposing vaccine mandates
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Iti says he's received vaccines throughout his life, including measles, tuberculosis, and typhoid, and a lot of his whanau died from these diseases, even during his lifetime. 

He says the devastation of these diseases is known, and while everyone is entitled to their view on vaccines, he's putting in rules in his personal life.

"The first thing he did was he called me and said, 'Tame, have you got the jab?', 'Yup', 'Have you got your second one?', 'Well I'm going to soon', 'Don't do it!'," Iti says the conversation went with a close friend of his.

"So then they're yelling like that and I say, 'Bro, I'm going to do it'. And I'm telling you this: if you're not going to get vaccinated, then you can't come to my place. And so we have to put in place tikanga and kawa around that.

"More important for me is that this is what we're going to do, rather than me spending my time having these huge debates."

Watch Tame Iti's full interview above.

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air.

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