Take a stand on the land event in Ihumātao tomorrow

updated By Tepara Koti

Mana whenua and local supporters of SOUL will take a stand at Ihumātao tomorrow, reinforcing their opposition to Fletcher’s plans to build on their land.

“Take a Stand on the Land” will be hosted by Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) which believes Fletcher’s proposal ignores the objections of mana whenua.

SOUL spokesperson Pania Newton (Waikato, Ngāpuhi) says, “We hope that people will turn out in numbers to send a message to Fletcher and to the government that this proposed development is unjust, unwanted and unsustainable."

Fletcher has now achieved almost all the consents required for its proposed development and SOUL remains determined to do what it takes to encourage all affected parties to work together to come up with a negotiated resolution.

In a statement to Māori Television today, Steve Evans, CEO Residential and Land Development, Fletcher Building said, “Fletcher Building’s land is nothing like Bastion Point. This land has been privately owned and heavily cultivated for more than 150 years, has already been covered by a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, and Auckland Council has indicated it does not want it.”

He says, “The argument being used by detractors is essentially arguing that any privately held land is now able to be renegotiated.”

Mr Evans adds, “Similarly, the UN has now indicated it is satisfied that there is no need to adjust the process which Fletcher have undertaken to try and deliver much needed housing on this site in Auckland. The historic stonefields are already protected by a 100ha park, and we are proud that protection will be further extended with the relinquishment of 25 per cent of Fletcher Building’s land including the area above the existing lava cave.”

He said that, “Local iwi have made it clear to us that SOUL does not represent them and that they support the new neighbourhood we are planning, and we share their disappointment that commentators have not considered the iwi’s voice in this matter.”

Mana whenua describes anyone with whakapapa or is affiliated to the whenua (land). Rereātea understands that several members of the SOUL movement are also mana whenua, or affiliated by their iwi to the particular land in question at Ihumātao.

In May 2016, more than 400 community members joined hands around the land to symbolically protect Ihumātao. Tomorrow's event continues this message.

Community leader Brendan Corbett says Ihumātao has stories to tell about the history of the nation and provides a special gateway to the country's international visitors.

"SOUL wants to show Fletcher, Auckland Council and the government that we are taking action so that future generations will know we did everything in our power to protect the whenua.”