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May 1, 2017 | by  | in News Splash |
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UN to receive SOUL

Members of the Save Our Unique Landscape campaign (SOUL) have travelled to New York to seek international recognition that a proposed housing development on iwi land in Auckland breaches indigenous people’s rights.

SOUL formed to protest Fletcher Residential Limited’s plans to build 480 homes across 33 hectares at Ihumātao, just north of Auckland airport.

Fletcher Residential gained permission to develop the land following its designation as a Special Housing Area for urban development in 2014.

For local iwi and hapū, this land, which is the oldest settlement in Auckland, is a wāhi tapu.

Last week, SOUL members Pania Newton and Delwyn Roberts travelled to New York to address the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in particular to voice concerns surrounding alleged breaches of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIPP), of which New Zealand is a full signatory.

Newton and Roberts will also be meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People.

A representative from SOUL told Salient that “a statement from the UN acknowledging the breaches… will assist our plight to protect the land,” primarily through the “moral and political” pressure it will place on the government and the Auckland Council to act.

In particular, breaches have arisen from legislation that “fast tracks development of land […] minimising the rights of indigenous (and other) people to object, negotiate, or disrupt” proposed development.

Addressing the UNPFII is not the final step for SOUL, who have applied to be heard at the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination forum in Geneva next month.

Local legal action continues to be pursued, including progressing a Waitangi Tribunal claim and proceedings in the Māori Land Court. SOUL told Salient that they also intend to pursue claims in the Environment Court and High Court, and are considering the possibility of judicial review.

“The fight continues.”

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