Ihumātao: National wants Coalition to disclose if deal is on table

By Te Ao - Māori News

National Party leader Judith Collins is calling on the government to disclose before the election whether a Crown deal for Ihumātao is on the table.

“New Zealand is in the grip of a jobs crisis with more than 200,000 people out of work and our economy in decline. If the government is comfortable with struggling Kiwis footing the bill for Ihumātao it will send a chill down the spine of taxpayers and property owners,” Collins said in a media statement released Sunday morning.

Ihumātao, in south Auckland, is where SOUL, an activist group, is trying to prevent Fletcher Housing from building a large subdivision on land the group considers wahi tapu.

She says transparency is required from the government regarding the matter.

“With the election just around the corner, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern now owes it to voters to be transparent about whether any taxpayer funds will be used to settle this dispute under a Labour government.

“She should either rule out a Crown deal now, or be upfront about what her finance minister is cooking up behind closed doors."

Colins says the government's intervention at Ihumātao a year ago to stop a housing development there has impacted the provision of much-needed housing in Auckland. 

“The ramifications of a Crown deal go much further than the lost opportunity of building houses. It will call full and final treaty settlements into question and set an appalling precedent. 

“If there is a deal on the cards, Labour needs to explain to voters why they think it is appropriate to meddle in private property rights with taxpayers’ money.”

Last month, Te Ao reported that an Ihumātao settlement could be imminent.