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Benjamin Peri Nathan
On 14 March 1996, Maori activist Benjamin Peri Nathan walked into the Royal Yacht Squadron’s clubrooms on Auckland’s waterfront, pulled a hammer from his clothing, smashed into a glass display case and severely damaged what is arguably New Zealand’s greatest sporting icon, the America’s Cup.
Twenty-eight-year-old Nathan, a Maori language student, ignored an elaborate security system including a security guard and attacked the cup while chanting in Maori and wearing a Maori sovereignty T-shirt.

Trial Maori sovereignty platform

Nathan was overpowered and arrested and charged with willfully damaging the cup. He pleaded not guilty and elected trial by jury. Nathan used the trial to publicise his beliefs in Maori sovereignty issues. His lawyer, Lorraine Smith, said the cup represented everything Nathan despised and he felt a moral and legal right to attack it under the Treaty of Waitangi and the Declaration of Independence.
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New Zealand’s greatest sporting trophy vandalized by activist.
br> After a three-day trial, the jury found Nathan guilty. He was sentenced to two years and 10 months jail; the sentence to be served in addition to an 18-month term he was already serving for aggravated robbery. Earlier this year he appealed against the severity of the sentence and the term was reduced to 18 months.

Cup repaired in England

Well over 100 years old, the historic cup was restored at considerable expense, which the original London manufacturers absorbed. It was flown to and from New Zealand under escort, with its own first class seat. It is once more on display at the Royal Yacht Squadron rooms, but with stepped-up security!


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America’s Cup Damaged

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