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War of words over Tiki Taane incident

Published: 6:11PM Wednesday April 13, 2011 Source: ONE News

A chart topping musician says his arrest for disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence at the weekend was an overreaction by police.

Tiki Taane says a police officer took offence during a random check of a Tauranga nightclub when he sang the first two lines of an explicit rap song aimed at the police.

"I've done it in front of other police officers and they've kind of looked at me, given me a wink and gone 'you naughty boy. And then nothing's happened from it," Taane said.

But Police Association president Greg O'Connor said Taane's version is fictional.

"This is nothing to do with the words of a song," O'Connor told Close Up.

O'Connor said police deal with bad language every day and it is like a term of endearment. He said in this instance a fight started on the dance floor when one of the patrons was annoying some of the women. He said wisely the police didn't get involved but watched the bouncers shadow them out.

The mood changed and that's when the music started and the crowd joined in the chanting, O'Connor said. He said police got it sorted at the time and went back later for a chat.

"That was where he (Taane) went off and refused to co-operate," O'Connor said.

He said police had no intention to arrest when they went back but were forced into a corner by the unco-operative singer.

The situation could have got out of control, O'Connor believes.

"His (Taane's) actions were then completely unreasonable and he was completely out of control."

Respect for police

Taane has toured the world and has performed in front of thousands of fans.

Today he told Close Up reporter Kate Lynch that he has the utmost respect for the police, and the incident has been blown way out of proportion.

The former soundman for Salmonella Dub is one of New Zealand's most successful soloists and his song Always on my Mind is the highest selling New Zealand single of all time.

But it was his rendition of someone else's song this week that had him hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

He said the song was written at a time when there was a lot of heat on youth of Los Angeles and there were lots of arrests. "It was a protest song," said Taane.

He sang the lyrics as police were carrying out a walk-through of the Illuminati nightclub.

"I was like there's the police, they're pushing through the crowd...I'm just going to do what I normally do when the police are in the building and have a wee cheeky thing."

While the lyrics could be considered inflammatory, Taane said he has sung them many times at gigs, including in front of other police.

He said he has had photos with, and signed autographs for, police officers.

"It's really unfortunate one police officer took it the wrong way," said Taane.

That police officer said the singer was inciting the crowd to become violent - something Taane strongly rejects.

He said the crowd were really happy and he told the officer he was sorry if he had offended him.

Taane was handcuffed and taken back to the station where he spent five hours in the police cells before being charged with disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence.

"In the 20 years I've been doing this there has never been any violence at my gig," he said.

The singer has always been open about his colourful past, from smoking cigarettes, to smoking pot, drinking and, by the time he was 15, smoking home bake and trying acid.

He says music saved his life and now he's a father and role model to baby Charlie. And at 34 years old this is his first run in with police.

"I've never been arrested. This is my first offence, first time I've ever put in the cells...it's just so bizarre that I get arrested for singing a song. It doesn't matter how naughty the song is, the fact is there was no violence, no disorderly behaviour."

It's not the first time a New Zealand musician has been charged with inciting violence. In 1984 Dave Dobbyn was charged after riots in Auckland. The case went to trial and Dobbyn was acquitted.

Taane believes the police do an amazing job.

"They're understaffed, underpaid, they're overworked and they still manage to do an amazing job so I've got nothing against the police.

"That song is just a song...this whole thing is ridiculous and it's just unfortunate that one police officer took offence and wanted to make a point."

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