BY AZARIA HOWELL
Young people have clashed with Fletcher Building over a new land development near Auckland.
The rights of iwi, tangata whenua, and corporations have been widely debated at these protests, with rangatahi standing against the housing proposal.
Called ‘our generation’s Bastion Point’, the land at Ihumātao was taken by the Crown years ago, and protesters are asking for it to be returned to the whenua.
Six arrests have been made so far, and protests are not seeming to halt at any stage. Protestors are concerned with the high amount of police officers, and delegates from groups such as Amnesty International have been informing them of their rights to speak out. They fear that history may repeat itself, as the Bastion Point occupation ended when police carried out hundreds of arrests of protestors.
A campaign called Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) has been set up in order to aid the protests at Ihumātao. They believe, “having a Special Housing Area (SHA) in Ihumaatao will not contribute to making Taamaki a liveable city, but destroy one of the few significant and unique historical, cultural, spiritual, social and environmental spaces we have left in Auckland.” The land is tapu, or sacred, according to SOUL leaders.
The local iwi have given consent for Fletcher Building to develop the site into a housing subdivision, however mana whenua who have been living there for generations significantly oppose this. The Green Party have come out in support of the non-violent direct action against the development with social media statements. Green MPs were also seen at a protest in Wellington, amongst hundreds of others, causing road closures. They claim that since the land was stolen by colonisers, it must be returned: “We signed the petitions. We protested with them. Now is our chance to fight even harder for tino rangatiratanga.”
“As land was taken, so land must be returned.”
The Prime Minister is supporting the decision of local iwi to go forward with the building consents, as protests continue to thrive. Public meetings with both the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Conservation are on the table, but Fletcher Building is pushing to move forward with the development.
Protestors claim they will not rest “until justice is served.”
AZARIA HOWELL is a huge politics nerd living in Christchurch. Expect lots of new political articles on Tearaway from her! She also loves snowboarding, Beagles, and wearing clunky boots.
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