The owner of a painting is calling for its subject to be prosecuted after the artist “vandalised” it by fixing a spelling mistake. 

New Zealand activist Tāme Iti saw the artwork, Tama performs in a New Zealand landscape, hanging in a Wellington hotel – noting his name was spelt wrong. 

“They call me Tame, Tama, somehow or another, you know,” he said in a video uploaded on Monday. “Such a simple name – Tāme.”

Then, to the sounds of a Snoop Dogg track, he’s filmed crossing out ‘Tama’ and replacing it with ‘Tāme’. 

“As far as I am concerned it is straight out vandalism,” art collector and owner Chris Parkin told news site Stuff.

“No different to someone placing graffiti on a building they don’t own. I expect the police to prosecute him. They certainly would me if I went to Te Papa and vandalised an artwork.”

Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum, also located in Wellington. 

Police told Stuff they hadn’t received any complaint about the “graffiti”. Dean Proudfoot, the artist, apologised to Iti and said the correction would give “the work a new life with a far more powerful meaning”. 

Iti has long advocated for the Māori language, and played a key role in it becoming an official language of New Zealand. Last week was Māori Language Week, or Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.