July 23, 2019
MEDIA RELEASE: Kaumatua & Kuia call for protestors to leave Ihumātao
23 July 2019
Kaumatua & Kuia call for protestors to leave Ihumātao
A short time ago, kaumatua and kuia representing mana whenua from Te Kawerau ā Maki, Te Ākitai Waiohua, and Tainui, walked onto the land that Fletcher Building owns at Ōruarangi Road, known as Ihumātao, and asked protestors to leave.
The kaumatua and kuia recited karakia as they walked towards the maunga (mountain) of Puketāpapa a Hape, supported by Fletcher Building, representatives of the Kingitanga, and Police.
Trespass notices were served on those people illegally occupying the land and dwellings owned by Fletcher Building.
“Today’s action by kaumatua and kuia, was a significant gesture. It was a powerful message to protestors to leave. It was a request from elders who have lived at Ihumātao all their lives – not from Fletcher Building or Police, but from those people who know this land, and its importance.
“Fletcher Building has worked closely with mana whenua for the past three years. We haven’t always agreed, but today we supported their hikoi onto the land, and they support our development moving ahead.
“We are proud that once the Ōruarangi development is complete, iwi members and those who have whakapapa to Ihumātao, will have access to warm, dry, sustainable housing, that will bring them home again. It is unfortunate that a handful of protestors, have attempted to stop that from happening,” said Steve Evans, Chief Executive – Residential & Development at Fletcher Building.
The kaumatua and kuia say the occupation by SOUL has created division and mamae (hurt) within their iwi, and at the local marae. They say members of SOUL have trampled on tikanga (protocols).
The Ōruarangi development has been extensively tested in the courts including in the Māori Land Court, Environment Court, and the United Nations. All objections have been unsuccessful, and Fletcher Building has been found to have acted properly throughout.
Mr Evans says Fletcher Building has tried to engage with the protest group since 2016, but they have never shown a willingness to find a solution.
“Ōruarangi will be an exemplar development, creating a new community within an existing one. It will enhance the local area and connect the papakāinga, or village of Ihumātao, to the sacred maunga.
“We have committed to returning over 25% of the land that we own to mana whenua, and we are currently working through how to do this. Returning land is a first for a corporate like Fletcher Building, and we hope it further cements an enduring relationship with tangata whenua.
“Now, our hope is that alongside mana whenua, we can protect this beautiful whenua, and begin developing homes for their people today and for generations to come,” said Mr Evans.
Video footage of Kaumatua and Kuia walking onto the land at the following link: https://vimeo.com/349588818
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