Ihumatao, the Parihaka of south Auckland?

People gathered to occupy land at Ihumatao prior to cultural, archeological and historical areas being developed for housing.
CHRIS MCKEEN / FAIRFAX NZ

People gathered to occupy land at Ihumatao prior to cultural, archeological and historical areas being developed for housing.

Opponents to a massive housing development have taken their next step in "protecting Ihumatao".

Residents of the nearby village and members of the mana whenua-led activist group SOUL are now camping alongside the proposed site for a Special Housing Area. 

SOUL is an acronym for the group Save Our Unique Landscape that is opposing development on the property.

Photos from the protest at Ihumatao.
Qiane Matata-Sipu

Photos from the protest at Ihumatao.

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On Noverber 5, about 100 people turned up at the land designated for a Special Housing Area to commemorate Parihaka day.

In 1881, Parihaka became the symbol of protest against the confiscation of Maori land after colonial troops invaded the settlement arresting Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, who were leading a campaign of non-co-operation against proposed land sales.

The tents pitched at Ihumatao to protest development.
KYMBERLEE FERNANDES/FAIRFAX NZ

The tents pitched at Ihumatao to protest development.

Former Maori Party co-leader Dame Tariana Turia had called for November 5 to be formally recognised as Parihaka Day, not Guy Fawkes.

SOUL spokesperson, Pania Newton says what happened at Parihaka "relates to what is happening at Ihumatao ... in terms of the proposed development".

"We are just camping out, building us a little papakainga, or village. It's not an occupation; this is a hub for the issue," she says aspiring to explain to anyone interested in what's going on.

Parihaka pictured about 1881, before the invasion of the armed constabulary.
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Parihaka pictured about 1881, before the invasion of the armed constabulary.

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At the moment about 20 people are living in the tents.

While the tents have been pitched on the sides of the road, Newton says they "haven't heard anything from Fletcher [Building] yet. They have until December 13 to purchase the land".

Pania Newton sitting in her caravan parked on the side of the road.
KYMBERLEE FERNANDES/FAIRFAX NZ

Pania Newton sitting in her caravan parked on the side of the road.

According to her, Fletcher Building had to purchase the land in August, but applied for an extension.

"I like to think that all the pressure that we've put on them has caused them to halt the development".

Newton, who is a law school graduate, and is now completing her undergraduate degree in Maori studies and Social Science for Public Health says they've "looked at the bylaws and I don't feel that we're doing anything illegal".

About 20 people are currently living on the site.
KYMBERLEE FERNANDES/FAIRFAX NZ

About 20 people are currently living on the site.

One thing she wants to clarify is that all that have ever asked for, from the Council and the Crown, was "to uphold the promise made to us in 2007 ... to have this land added on to Otuataua Stonefields Reserve".

It's been two years since the protest started, and she says they "plan to stay here as long it will take to stop the development".

If they are asked to leave, she asserts "this isn't our last resort".


 

 

 - Stuff

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