'A wonderful new neighbourhood': Fletcher Residential buys 'sacred' Maori land at Ihumatao in south Auckland
A "sacred Maori site" in south Auckland has been purchased by Fletcher Residential where it plans to build about 480 houses.
The completion of the purchase comes despite months of protest by activist group SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) and other members of the Mangere community.
They said the land was unjustly confiscated from mana whenua in 1863.
Fletcher Residential general manager, Ken Lotu-I'iga said the 33.8-hectare property is set to be a "wonderful new neighbourhood" of stand-alone homes and terrace housing.
"It will also include the affordable housing which many Aucklanders so desperately need."
The exact location of caves and midden have been identified and Fletcher said they will not be building on any of those areas. Additionally, an old farm house and some significant trees will remain untouched.
He said the company has been working with mandated iwi representatives.
However, a mana whenua co-leader of SOUL, Pania Newton said Fletcher have not consulted with the people of Ihumatao, with whanau or the local community.
"Those individuals who met with the developers, as I understand it, were there solely for mitigation. This does not amount to consent or approval of the development," she said.
The disputed land was reportedly farmed by the Wallace family for 150 years, then in 2011 was zoned for residential development.
In 2007, the Manukau City Council had intended this land be added to the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve.
"That is what true protection would look like," Newton said.
Fletcher announced that it has set aside 25 per cent of the development land to provide "a buffer zone for the reserve. We believe Auckland can have both history and houses".