Auckland Council rezones land bordering Ihumātao

10:01 am on 8 August 2019

Auckland Council has agreed to add almost nine hectares to the Ōtuataua Stonefields Reserve, which borders the land at Ihumātao.

Protester and police at Ihumatao.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the rezoned land is a gesture towards a resolution at Ihumātao (pictured). Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

It's among the 233 hectares the council's Planning Committee has decided to rezone to public open space in the city.

The 8.9 hectare land had been zoned for future urban development.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told Morning Report rezoning the land was the council's gesture towards find a resolution at Ihumātao.

"It's council-owned land so there was no problem in rezoning it, there was no extra cost to the ratepayer, 9 hectares of land is a significant size piece of land, it adds to the Stonefields area and it says look we recognise this area is important, it's the area that's probably the oldest inhabited area in the whole of Auckland, Tāmaki Makaurau and that is something that we can put on the table..."

He said maybe this will create a context in which it's easier to solve the conflict over Ihumātao.

"It means it's kept as conservation land, recreational land, it adds to the recreational areas that are available for Aucklanders to enjoy."

He said the council sought to keep the Ihumātao block zoned as public space but lost the battle to the Environment Court in 2012, meaning there was nothing more the council could do.

Suggestions that the land the sewage treatment plant block is on should be swapped for Ihumātao wouldn't work as it's not an area the council wants to see developed for housing, Mr Goff said.

"We voted unanimously that we would try to facilitate the parties coming together on the basis that dialouge's a whole lot better than confrontation."

He said a few weeks ago he had a conversation with the prime minister and the following day they met with mana whenua leadership and Fletchers.

"We listened to what the Māori leadership were saying and Māori ministers were saying and we believe that the Kīngitanga is perhaps the key to resolving this problem, they are a group, the king and Kīngitanga are respected both by the mana whenua leadership and they're respected by the SOUL group."

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