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There was an article in the New Zealand Herald a couple of days ago about Ihumatao. It started of with “Land at Ihumatao is confiscated during the invasion of the Waikato”, making it sound as though it was seized while we were “grabbing” the Waikato lands. This is typical of the twisted facts by the media in their efforts to create a divided nation, with the maori painted as wronged victims deserving eternal handouts and undemocratic “Rights”.
The land at the centre of the dispute on the Ihumatao Peninsula overlooking the Manukau Harbour has had a chequered history. Many lands were seized from rebellious tribes in the past who flouted the laws that were agreed on by both maori and pakeha. Tribes that murdered, burned the buildings and killed the stock of legitimate farmers, committed acts of cannibalism not only on each other, but on the settlers, their womenfolk and their children, stole from settlements. The seizures were not only legal under the “pakeha” laws, but also legal under the maori’s own culture – Utu.
The maori-dominated Waitangi Tribunal has overlooked the true history many times and awarded BILLIONS of our taxpayer’s money to the various tribes. This Tribunal was set up to make recommendations only to the Government, who would then scrutinise the finding and only pay out if justified, yet all the governments have accepted the recommendations without question when even the simplest investigation would have shown them to be in error, creating huge precedents and paving the way for even more ridiculous claims.
Since being disposed of by the Crown following tribal rebellions in the 1860s it was privately owned and run as a farm. But in the late 1990s, the Manukau City Council, Auckland Regional Authority and Department of Conservation wanted 100 hectares of the surrounding area for the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve. The owners of the farm agreed that 21ha could be used for that purpose.
However, in 2009, when the Council proposed changing the zoning to capture the rest of the farm, the family objected and applied for the zoning to be changed to business development instead. The Council rejected their proposal, so they appealed to the Environment Court, which found in their favour, approving the land for future development.
The Council then offered to buy the land for a fraction of what it was worth, so the family refused to sell. Then, in 2014 after the Super City was formed, the Government and the Auckland Council designated 32ha of the land as a Special Housing Area.
In 2015, the Ihumatao iwi Te Kawerau a Maki agreed to a full and final settlement of all their grievances and received financial redress of $6.5 million, plus forestry, forestry rentals and more. Fletchers bought private land in the area and announced plans to build 480 homes, 40 of which were to be given to Te Kawerau a Maki. But a member of that iwi (against the will of the elders) started a land occupation demanding that the Government buy the land to keep it as is.
In 2016 Fletcher Building bought the land to build 480 houses, after consulting with the local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki. In return for supporting their consent, the iwi’s Settlement Trust extracted generous concessions from Fletchers, including the return of a quarter of the land and 40 of the houses to Te Kawerau a Maki as a gift.
The tribal leaders claimed that the land rights activists were disrespecting their elders by refusing to leave the site, the protest action was putting those substantial benefits at risk.
The well-funded protest action began in 2016 when Fletchers bought the land. At the time, protest leader, Pania Newton, had just graduated as a lawyer and was spending a gap year working for her community. A top scholar at her Mangere Maori immersion school, she appears to have been radicalised at a young age: “When I was 9, I wrote in a time capsule at school that I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up, to fight for Maori rights and for my family”.
Saving Ihumatao became her mission, and the ‘Save Our Unique Landscape’ (SOUL) campaign began….. Because firstly the Council stepped in, supporting the illegal occupiers, then the Government adding to the ridiculous mess of criminal land-grabbing by younger maori activists, Auckland has missed out on 480 much-needed houses, and the maori have missed out on the gifting of 40 houses and a quarter of the land developed and handed back to them – – and both the Council and the government have again shown that they desire a divided nation.