Maori activist and artist Tame Iti says the alleged actions of white supremacist Brenton Tarrant in the horrific murders in Christchurch is terrorism, not what he was accused of.

Iti was jailed on firearms charges following the so-called "terror raids" in the Ureweras in 2007. However, police eventually apologised to Tūhoe over the hurt caused by the raids.

The artist from Ruatoki said there had been an ingrained "redneck" culture in areas such as Christchurch, where he lived between 1968 and 1972, and Dunedin, and he had for years warned of their dangerous attitudes.

Bay of Plenty activist Tame Iti. Photo / File
Bay of Plenty activist Tame Iti. Photo / File

When asked if he was surprised about what unfolded in Christchurch, Iti said "not at all".

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"These people have been around for a long time. That mentality has been around a long time. I've been saying for a long time you fellows need to focus on those guys and the police need to re-school their thinking. They keep looking at the Māori activist in this country and they have got it wrong."

Iti said he had been personally threatened by white supremacists in the past and he admitted he was still in fear for his own personal security.

Iti will be a guest speaker at Massey University in Palmerston North this week in a series called "activist in residence" but he said he would be rethinking security around those public events.

"I am concerned about security because of my public profile."

Ishaan Pathan,9, with Samina Ambakhhutwala at the vigil for Christchurch at Te Papaiouru Marae in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser
Ishaan Pathan,9, with Samina Ambakhhutwala at the vigil for Christchurch at Te Papaiouru Marae in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser

Iti said many New Zealanders needed to go through a "decolonisation" process.

"Everyone needs to work on their attitude. We hear talk that there's too many Chinese or too many Africans. That's how we felt (when Europeans came to New Zealand) but we didn't go and shoot them. It was the other way around. In the 1860s we lost a lot of people."

Iti said he had personally changed his attitude over the years.

"I changed my attitude towards a lot of Pākehā and I'm a lot more tolerant now too. We all need to find a space and find a pathway forward so we can stop the spread of extreme terrorism."

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No terror charges were ever laid following the Urewera raids, codenamed Operation Eight. Criminal charges were later dropped after the Supreme Court ruled the video surveillance evidence was unlawful.

Iti was jailed for two-and-a-half years on firearms charges.