Ihumātao protest: Wake-up call from police

8:14 am on 25 July 2019

Some of the protesters staying at Ihumātao in Auckland were this morning woken by police officers and are now standing in a line toe-to-toe with them as they fight to stop a housing development there.

Police and protesters at dawn at Ihumātao in Auckland on 25 July 2019.

Police and protesters at dawn at Ihumātao Photo: RNZ / Joanna MacKenzie

RNZ's reporter at the site, Joanna MacKenzie, said there are about a dozen tents in a paddock in the area and they were woken by police.

A waiata and karakia was interrupted as more police arrived this morning.

The number of people at Ihumātao are fewer than yesterday at this stage, but the expectation is that the numbers will swell as the day goes on and calls for support go out via social media, RNZ's reporter said.

Three more people were arrested yesterday as hundreds of supporters joined those who were occupying the land to fight the development by Fletcher Building.

The government has refused to get involved, a move labelled 'pathetic' by the movement's leader.

Organisers say buses are on their way and people have flown in from around the country to be part of efforts.

A quick search on social media and it's not hard to find people looking for a lift or offering to carpool to the site at Ihumātao.

The number of people at the main blockade on the corner of Ihumātao Quarry Road easily doubled yesterday with hundreds standing off with police and spilling out onto an a joining field - forcing a new line of police to form across the grass.

Some had been there overnight, while supporters like Steven popped in and out around work commitments.

"It was a really different feeling [on Tuesday]," he said as people sang and police confiscated impromptu braziers from those on the field's front line.

"The people were massively outnumbered by police and here on [Wednesday] it's just something different; there's a real community feeling, a lot of people with their children, all sorts of people milling about with a common goal to protect this part of our history and heritage."

A man is taken into custody at Ihumatao.

A man is taken into custody at Ihumātao Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Many have live-streamed the action across social media as calls continue to go out for people to join in.

Whare-Joe Tana said he was surprised to see his stream to almost 5000 followers on his hip hop Facebook page attract wide interest including from people in Australia.

"There's definitely interest out there and going off the comments in the [livestream] a lot of people wish they were here so this is like the second best thing for them to be in the live and feel a part of it.

Among those following events today will be independent human rights observers from Amnesty International. They have not sent observers to an event in New Zealand for years.

Its executive director Meg de Ronde said the huge interest in the protest prompted them to take action.

"We're prepared to be there and to observe and to make sure that both for police and for those attending as protesters, that there is independent verification of what occurs.

She said they would be making sure people's rights to peaceful assembly and protest were upheld.

After the first cold night, a bustling community has begun to emerge. Throughout the day a constant stream of donations came through, utes filled with bottled water, people carry armloads of food and clothing.

Late in the afternoon half a dozen portaloos were brought in and as things grew dark a small village of tents was erected on the field.

Between cups of chicken soup Judy and Heather Black, alongside Huia Flavell-Dethierry handed out dozens of blankets from a large pile.

"It really is a blessed time, we're blessed we are," Ms Flavell-Dethierry said.

"Even with what's happening, it doesn't matter we don't want to go down, we just want to keep going forward.

Of Ngāti Te Ata, Heather Black, said they were just doing their part, giving what time they could.

"Māori have got big hearts when it comes to a good cause that they all believe in, and the land is a good cause. What do we have if we don't have this land?

"We're all different tribes, so people come from different tribes to support this cause because it affects us all in the long run."

"We're very proud, very hopeful," Judy Black said, "We want to be peaceful and giving love. We want that."

As they did the night before mana whenua and leaders of the movement met to plan the day ahead with a briefing expected this morning.

They said their presence would remain for as long as it took, with numbers expected to rise throughout the week and into the weekend.

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