'We are really relieved': Deal on Ihumātao 'hours away'

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 21 Jan 2020, 2:08PM
A deal regarding the land dispute at Ihumātao is imminent. (Photo / File)
A deal regarding the land dispute at Ihumātao is imminent. (Photo / File)

'We are really relieved': Deal on Ihumātao 'hours away'

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 21 Jan 2020, 2:08PM

A deal on the disputed land at Ihumātao could be just "hours away", says a leader of the group leading the occupation of the whenua.

The South Auckland site, believed to be one of the earliest settlements in the country, has been the focus of a high-profile protest movement against a housing development over the past several years, erupting last July when occupiers were served an eviction notice.

Amid escalating protests, on July 26 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stepped in to call a halt to the development while all parties negotiated a resolution.

Soon the Māori King became involved, bringing the mana whenua groups divided over the development under the korowai of the Kīngitanga to find common ground.

\In September Kīngi Tūheitia announced mana whenua had reached a consensus: they wanted the land, originally confiscated by the Crown in 1863, returned and wanted the Government to negotiate with Fletcher Building.

On Tuesday Pania Newton, co-founder of Save Our Unique Landscape (Soul), told the Herald a deal is "hours away".

"A deal is coming. We are just working through the details, and have a meeting with whānau tonight to confirm they are happy with the arrangement.

"We are hoping a resolution is just hours, if not a day, away."

Newton said she could not release any further details until after that meeting, but that they were "relieved".

"Fletcher has been in, starting to remove the last of their gear. We are really relieved. Conversations have been progressing really well."