Government urging all Ihumātao parties to talk

By Taroi Black

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford is urging all parties involved in the controversial Ihumatao Housing development to come together and find a solution. This follows an agreement between the government and the construction industry to transform and improve the sector.

At the announcement, Mr Twyford said all legal avenues have been exhausted in relation to Ihumatao so it's time for Fletcher Building and SOUL members to talk.

“All of the legal avenues have been exhausted in relation to the Ihumatao issue. It's generally a complex issue with competing views from Mana whenua the soul group and Fletchers who own the land are looking to develope it and we urge all of the parties to this issue to get around the table and continue talking to try and find a solution.”

Fletcher Building is planning to build nearly five hundred homes at the historically significant Māori site on the edge of the Manukau Harbour.

Fletcher Construction CEO Peter Reidy said he wouldn’t answer any questions to do with Fletcher Building in relation to Ihumātao. However, he’s positive about the new construction sector accord which sets out an agreed vision and focuses on addressing many of the challenges the sector is facing.  

Members of Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) have been protesting the development since 2016. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the accord aims to address concerns similar to those raised at Ihumatao.

“The accord is the way in which we work with the industry rather than individual projects. Certainly, my expectation when we talk about certain projects that consultation with Mana Whenua is absolutely key and it always has been and needs to continue to be.”

Ihumatao and SOUL spokesperson Pania Newton says, “I’m not at all surprised regarding their responses. We have tried meeting with all parties in relation to our concerns about Ihumātao. They already have the backing of the local government and the central government to continue with construction developments.”

Last week a 20,000-signature petition was delivered to Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, calling for local council and government to protect Ihumātao. An 18,000 signature petition was also delivered to the government calling on it to revoke the housing development consent. So it seems the government wants this issue to be sorted as soon as possible. Ms Newton says SOUL members will be meeting with the Māori Affairs Select Committee tomorrow to discuss the issue further.