Campaigners take fight against Akl development to UN

9:15 pm on 25 April 2017

Two campaigners against a housing development on iwi land in Auckland are flying to New York to voice their concerns to the United Nations.

Protesters at Ihumātao, who have been occupying the roadside there for about a month.

In December, protesters occupied the roadside at Ihumātao for about a month. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

The Ihumātao and Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve in Mangere is the home to New Zealand's earliest gardens and is a significant archaeological site on land considered wahi tapu, or sacred, by local hapū and iwi.

The land has been earmarked for Fletcher Building, which has been granted approval to build 480 homes on 32 hectares next to the stone fields.

The Ihumātao iwi has been ['it-is-trampling-on-tapu-whenua' protesting Fletcher's plans and will now take their fight to the United Nations.

Pania Newton and Delwyn Roberts from the protest group, Save Our Unique Landscape or SOUL, will be calling on the UN to address alleged breaches under the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People.

Its spokesperson Brendan Corbett said the international recognition they had received for the cause so far was amazing.

"To get exposure of this local issue of a local back-water [town] in Mangere, at the highest political level, is mind-blowingly brilliant," he said.

Mr Corbett said he hoped international pressure would force the government, Auckland Council and Fletchers to start listening to iwi.

"They've been able to ignore all the pressure that we've put on them so far, but they won't be able to ignore this," he said.

"Hopefully because of this, we'll be able to sit down at the table and get some meaningful working solutions to this issue so that everybody can come out of it looking good."

The outcome of Ms Newton and Ms Robert's meeting with the UN should be known in the coming week, he said.

Protests at home

Meanwhile, players from the Onehunga and Mangere United football club today wore special 'Protect Ihumātao' tee-shirts at a pre-match warm up against Waiheke United and at a function after the game.

Head coach John Bennett said many players at the club felt strong connections with the land and it was an important cause to support.

"Obviously with us being based on a mountain itself, we take a lot of pride in being there," Mr Bennett said .

"The fact that they're [Ihumātao iwi] trying to protect a large chunk of it, I thought it was very much something we needed to help with."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs