Ihumātao up for government discussion in 'very near future'

By Te Ao - Māori News

Settling the Ihumātao dispute is on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's agenda once the election dust settles, Labour's Peeni Henare says.

"Once the dust has settled no doubt that will be one of the conversations that will be had in the very near future," Henare told Whakatau 2020 host Rukuwai Tipene-Allen.

Winston Peters said before the election that NZ First had 'staved off' any action on Ihumātao before polling day but, with the party now out of the picture, the way appears clear for Labour to resolve the dispute. 

Henare, sitting alongside Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta, said Ardern had made her position clear.

"She's made herself clear that she wants to find a resolution there." 

While he would not say if a deal was on the cards within the next six months, Henare said discussions were well advanced. 

Well advanced

"We've done a lot of the hard work and heavy lifting in discussions on that matter with the Kīngitanga, with King Tūheitia, and, of course, with the whānau out at Ihumātao, as well as some of the officials.

"So those conversations are already well advanced.

"But, like I say, we've got to wait until the dust settles, the numbers are in and that'll be a topic of discussion for us."

Mahuta was quick to point out that Labour had inherited the issue from the previous National government. She said her party had a solution to the housing issue National experienced. 

"We've got to remember Ihumātao arose out of the decisions of the previous government with it trying to rush through a big housing venture. They were difficult decisions to navigate but the social licence to build the scale of housing on that site has been lost.

"We've said that we have a solution that is pending and, as Peeni has said, once we get over this initial phase of forming the government, and what the shape and form of what that will look like, then we can go to the next step."