Protest trumps Treaty process in possible Ihumatao deal

A possible $30 million deal over land at Ihumatao after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became involved in the dispute shows that protests over-ride negotiated agreements, Hobson’s Pledge spokesperson Casey Costello said today.

One News said the Government plans to buy the land under the Housing Act to circumvent the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process, and will set up a board comprising the Government, Auckland Council and Maori organisations to administer the land.

“Any deal at Ihumatao involving Government intervention in private property agreements places all ownership and development initiatives at risk,” Ms Costello said.

“The facts remain unchanged: A deal was reached in the spirit of true leadership by the mana whenua in the interests of achieving positive outcomes for the iwi”, she said.

“Disaffected individuals then intervened to turn the land into a protest zone and override the lawful property rights of the landowners”.

In 2015, Fletcher Residential bought a 32-hectare area on the eastern side of the Stonefields reserve designated a special housing area and proposed to build 480 homes.

The land was part of an area that had been confiscated in 1863 and held in private ownership until part was sold, in 2001, to create the historic reserve, and part was sold to Fletchers in 2015.

Te Kawerau a Maki received $6.5 million in 2015 to settle historical claims against the Government related to that land, then entered an agreement in which Fletchers would give the tribe 40 homes.

Other groups with grievances to do with that area have gone through and are going through the Treaty settlement process.

Pania Newton of Save Our Unique Landscape started a protest and land occupation in 2016, which came to a head last July when Fletchers served eviction notices.

“The reality is that Ihumatao will now serve as a warning to any developer who may consider partnering with Maori to develop land and provide positive outcomes for their iwi”, Ms Costello said.

“This sets a precedent that it does not matter with whom negotiations are entered into as the risk will remain that a younger, more organised and externally funded lobby group can be established to override any agreements reached by Maori, developers and private land owners”, she said.



Casey Costello             027 532 4959