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February 25, 2019 | by  | in News |
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Wellington Protests in Solidarity with Ihumātao Land Claim

Protesters in Wellington joined a nation-wide series of demonstrations against Fletcher Building, calling on the company to halt construction plans at Ihumātao and return the land to mana whenua.

Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) activists demonstrated outside the Fletcher Building office in Churton Park on the morning of February 15.

The demonstration featured waitata, barbecues, and a Te Tiriti workshop.

Ihumātao, near Auckland Airport, was confiscated by the Crown in 1863 under the New Zealand Settlements Act as part of its colonial expansion into the Waikato.

Fletcher Building purchased the land and fast-tracked development under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013. They are expected to start work on a housing development by March.

SOUL spokesperson Pania Newton said in a statement, “Our people are nothing without this land. It defines our identity, health and wellbeing.”

“Archeologists would describe this place as where Polynesians became Māori because its (sic) one of the sites that [the earliest evidence of] human settlement can be found.”

“SOUL is doing everything possible to avoid confrontation on the land. But our kāumatua are preparing to stand in front of the bulldozers if they come.”

Fletcher Building rejected SOUL’s concerns, saying that during the last four years it had worked with iwi who hold mana whenua over Ihumātao.

Local activist Te Ao Pritchard, who participated in the Wellington demonstration, compared the issue to the Bastion Point protests of the late 70’s.

“Now is the time to take a stand and protect Ihumātao and support mana whenua fighting to get back land the government stole,” she said.

SOUL solidarity protests in Wellington and around the country will continue in coming weeks as Fletcher Building looks to start construction.

A march on Parliament is expected to be held early next month to deliver a petition demanding the government to halt development.

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