Protect Ihumātao campaigners return to Aotearoa today

Protect Ihumātao campaigners, Pania Newton and Delwyn Roberts will return to Aotearoa today after attending the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. 

They voiced their concerns about the alleged breaches of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People at Ihumātao, south of Auckland.

Newton twice addressed the PFII on the confiscation of Māori land and the planned Fletcher development, while Roberts presented a summary of the impact of the development on the rangatahi of Te Wai o Hua.

The SOUL (Save our Unique Landscape, #ProtectIhumatao) representatives have been campaigning for more than two years to stop a 480-unit Fletcher housing development on ancestral land near Auckland Airport.

Newton and Roberts also had a session with the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues. Associate Professor of Law, Claire Charters from the University of Auckland, provided legal advice and assistance in New York and attended meetings with the SOUL delegates.

SOUL spokesperson Brendan Corbett says the campaign action became a necessity.

"We have always maintained that the Land Wars have never finished. We hadn't had any joy taking our take (matter of concern) to the Auckland Council and the Government so we applied to represent the people of Ihumātao at the United Nations, at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues."

The pair met face to face with the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues, explained the extreme hardship and difficulties faced by the people of Ihumātao since the confiscation of land in the 1860s and invited her to visit to investigate and report.

There has been an overwhelming response to the kaupapa. A Give-a-Little Page raised over $5000 within a few days. The Campaign also received a generous donation from Ngā Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa (the Sisters of Mercy New Zealand). 

Corbett says, "The SOUL delegation was an outstanding success placing Ihumātao on the international stage and drawing significant coverage and support."

The pair arrived in Aotearoa at 1pm. 

Te Kāea reporter Leah Te Whata spoke to Pania Newton ahead of her trip to New York.