23 Aug 2019

Jacinda Ardern 'will visit Ihumātao ... it's just a matter of timing'

4:14 pm on 23 August 2019

PM's response to hikoi: Visit to Ihumātao 'a matter of timing'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she will go to Ihumātao - but not until the stand-off between iwi and Fletchers is over.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives at the Grand Entrance to attend The Queen's Dinner during The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), at Buckingham Palace in London on April 19, 2018.

Jacinda Ardern (file photo) Photo: AFP

Hundreds of people marched for six hours in the pouring rain yesterday to Ms Ardern's Mt Albert electoral office to hand over a petition asking her to visit.

Ms Ardern previously insisted a visit to Ihumātao right now would detract from efforts to reach a solution, but has not ruled out going.

Today she confirmed she did want to see the whenua herself and would "absolutely" pay a visit in the future.

"I have never ruled out visiting. For me it's just all about making sure that I respect the process that's underway, that's being led by Kiingitanga. But, I will visit Ihumātao ... it's all just a matter of timing."

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Last month National Party leader Simon Bridges says the Prime Minister has set a poor precedent by getting involved in the Ihumātao dispute after she announced a halt on building at the site being occupied by protesters until an agreement was reached.

Today marks a month of intense occupation at Ihumātao as some mana whenua, including the group SOUL, oppose a Fletcher Building housing development. They have argued the land is a heritage site, formerly stolen from Māori by the Crown, and should be protected.

SOUL has several times, since the eviction notice was served, invited Ms Ardern to visit Ihumātao.

Last week she said her visiting was not the resolution.

"It is not about me," she said.

"Me visiting doesn't get us closer to a resolution, that ultimately needs to come from mana whenua," Ms Ardern said.

"I haven't ruled out visiting in the future but right now I see it as a distraction to finding a resolution."

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