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'Continuation of colonisation': Labour, Greens at odd over Ihumātao protests

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Section
Politics,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 6:52PM
Marama Davidson says the Greens do not agree with the Government's position. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Marama Davidson says the Greens do not agree with the Government's position. (Photo / NZ Herald)

The Government will not intervene in the Ihumātao stoush as it is not its place to get involved in the saga, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

This comes as hundreds have turned out across the country to protest a housing development being built at Ihumātao, near the sacred Ōtuataua Stonefields Reserve, in Auckland.

Despite the Government saying it won't intervene, Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson has vowed to continue pressing Ministers on the issue.

She told Parliament today that what is happening at Ihumātao was a "continuation of colonisation".

Six people have been arrested at the site, close to Auckland Airport, and hundreds turned up outside of Parliament this afternoon to protest.

There has been a strong police presence at Ihumātao all day.

In a statement, Amnesty International said it would be sending human rights observers to the site tomorrow to monitor protests.

"Everyone has the right to peaceful assembly, to peaceful protests, and to freedom of expression," Amnesty New Zealand's National Director Meg de Ronde said.

"We will be documenting what we see to share with the wider public, law enforcement agencies and policymakers."

Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis said he spoke with the tangata whenua – Te Kawerau a Maki.

He said no one has fought harder for that land and publically asserted his support for tangata whenua – "those who were part of the Treaty settlement".

But he said it was not the Government's place to intervene.

"That would disrespect the rangatiratanga of Kawerau a Maki. This is their land, their assets and their plan for their people."

Speaking to media, PM Jacinda Ardern said although the Government would not intervene "it was falling on the side of local iwi and their position". Photo / Mark Mitchell

Speaking to media, Ardern said although the Government would not intervene "it was falling on the side of local iwi and their position".

"They are not the ones leading the protest here, so if we come in over the top it really would be undermining the local iwi in this case."

Ardern said she had met with Davidson in the past to talk about the issue.

Davidson told media before going into the House that she would keep talking with Ministers about the issue.

But her priority was to de-escalate the situation and help to maintain peace.

"There is definitely a role for the Government to play," she said, but would not pre-empt what that role might look like.

But speaking in the House today, Davidson said what is happening at Ihumātao was a "continuation of colonisation".

She said more and more New Zealanders were waking to the realisation of the "injustice of Crown confiscated land".

"In this case, the original injustice was the Crown confiscation of the whenua at Ihumātao in 1865."

"For the people of Ihumātao and their community supporters, what is happening on the land right now is a continuation of colonisation."

Protesters are against the land at Ihumātao being turned into a housing development by Fletcher Building.

Protest groups say the 33.8ha area was unjustly confiscated from mana whenua in 1863.

Fletcher Residential got consent to build 480 homes on the site near the sacred Ōtuataua Stonefields Reserve.

It has since been the subject of much controversy.

Fletcher has committed to returning 25 per cent (eight hectares) of the land they own to the Kiingitanga.

"Returning the land is a first for a corporate like Fletcher Building," Fletcher Building Residential chief executive Steve Evans told RNZ.

 

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