Gerrard Otimi - I knew him first!!

From Gerry Otimi 19/06/09 1:30 PM
Gerrard Otimi was the top story on the Evening news on both TV networks last night, when it emerged he was the man charging Pacific Island overstayers $500 to stamp their Passports to give them New Zealand citizenship - thereby allowing them to stay in this country.

Well, that's what they thought he was doing but Gerry says otherwise. He says he was merely 'adopting' them into his 'whanau' and offering to help them in their quest for citizenship. Stamping their passports and issuing them with an official (but not) looking citizenship certificate was merely ... Well, I didn't hear his answer on that.

I'll let the Police decide whether he's broken any laws, but knowing Gerry as I do, I'm pretty sure he'll wriggle his way out of it.

My run in with Gerry came back in 1984 when I was promoting Breakdance competitions in Auckland. I held the first competition in 1983 at the Auckland YMCA in '83 and it was huge success. Up until then kids had been breaking/bopping (yes, that's what it was called back then despite revisionists now claiming they were always B-Boys) in the streets and in Auckland there was much consternation from Queen Street retailers about the kids dancing in shop fronts.

I solved that problem by booking the YMCA, putting up $1000 in prize money (a huge sum back then) and charging kids $4 entry ($15 for families of 6). It was MASSIVE!! We packed the place out and it was a great night. History was made, you should have been there. But you were white so probably missed it, right?

Anyway, I was clearly on to something and started organising more competitions. Gerry knew I was on to something too, and started a rival competition. But by virtue of being Maori and calling himself a youth worker (but he ran a calendar business) he went one better. He bent the ear of Auckland Mayor Cath Tizzard and got the council to fund a special stage for breakdancing in Aotea Square.

Good on him, I thought, and off he went -- holding free competitions every Friday and Saturday night in Aotea Square on his council funded stage. I continued with my plans to hold further competitions, and even a national competition.

The problem came in February 1984 when The Sunday News rang to tell me that Gerry had called me a Pakeha rip-off merchant and what did I think of that? Turns out Gerry had decided he too wanted to run competitions at the YMCA and charge people admission; but he had a problem: me.

By now I was giving away $1200 a night in prizemoney (and later $1500) but he was only giving away a trophy. A trophy named after him, and one you only got to keep until the next competition he held. With his new competition he would give away some cash ($350) but the rest would be for The United Youth Trust. We were all led to believe this was a charitable trust but as it later turned out (see Part Two) that was not correct.

So naturally I had to defend myself to The Sunday News and they got their story. There is a snap shot of it below but you can read a full page copy of it by clicking here. (Oh, BTW, I went by my real name back then, so now you know). Obviously there's a lot more to this story (complete with clippings about Gerry Otimi and the money he took from the breakdancers) so come back tomorrow for Part Two....

From Gerry Otimi 19/06/09 1:30 PM

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