Shelly Bay protesters and leaders of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST) are showing signs of unity and collaboration after years of division.
The $500 million development planned on the Wellington site, featuring 350 new homes, has been bogged down in legal challenges and disputes since its conception.
It's been occupied by Mau Whenua for 16 months. The group claims PNBST went against the will of its own people when it sold its land for development and that the deal was done in secret.
Yesterday Mau Whenua held an open day at Shelly Bay- inviting the community, iwi, and those who have supported their kaupapa.
PNBST chairman Kara Puketapu-Dentice and Mau Whenua spokesperson Catherine Love provided an update on the conversation they've been having.
Love told a crowd gathered there that over the years the situation has come to be known as the "Shelly Bay saga".
"Today is about positivity and unity. It's about acknowledging the past, learning from mistakes, and looking to the future."
Love said the vision of their old people was all about the whenua and getting that land back for their mokopuna.
It was not about cash, Love said, it was about people, housing, justice, education, and health.
"This has yet to be fully realised."
"But this vision is what I believe the Trust now is striving to return to ... to return to this old kaupapa that we spent generations fighting for."
The parties revealed PNBST has agreed that the principle of "rangatiratanga through holding our whenua" will be a key pillar of its revised strategic plan.
Love said there were still matters that needed to be rectified with PNBST and Mau Whenua would continue to protest the sale of the land.
Mau Whenua would not be withdrawing claims from the Māori Land Court, she said.
PNBST was established to receive and manage the treaty settlement package for Taranaki Whānui.
Taranaki Whānui used about half of its $25 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement money to purchase land at Shelly Bay.
Mau Whenua is a group that includes some iwi members but is also open to anyone opposed to the development.
Puketapu-Dentice said in his speech yesterday it was a time for healing, unifying uri, and direct engagement to collectively build a future.
"Together we are progressing a kaupapa which is about respecting our forebears and past leaders, acknowledging the importance of our whenua, and doing what's right for future generations."
Puketapu-Dentice acknowledged the different views of the past and the present, but was confident they were united in a vision of the future.
"As leaders, we accept responsibility for the mamae that has happened, and we will continue to look to our tupuna and whānau for guidance on the way forward.
"We won't get everything right, but Shelly Bay provides a foundation for learning and growing as we move forward together."
He said their elders understood the importance of securing whenua for their people, and PNBST and Mau Whenua wanted to uphold that kaupapa together.
Tensions ran high at Shelly Bay towards the end of last year after Mau Whenua ignored two notices to vacate the land.
At that time council chief executive Barbara McKerrow cited health and safety concerns regarding imminent construction on the developer's adjoining land and asbestos risk on council land.
- by Georgina Campbell, NZ Herald