Ihumātao: 'A resolution is imminent'- Pania Newton

10:26 am on 23 January 2020

Yesterday was an appropriate day for the Kiingitanga flag to be removed from the whenua at Ihumātao and a sign of things to come, says Pania Newton.

Pania Newton before today's hīkoi from Ihumātao to the Prime Minister's office in Mount Albert.

Pania Newton has been living at Ihumātao. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The co-founder of Save Our Unique Landscape, which has been living on the whenua at Ihumātao, told Morning Report the group is happy with the discussions that have been had to date.

Asked whether a deal is really that close, expected in the next few days, Newton said: "I think some things have been quite obvious over the last couple of days", citing the king lowering his flag yesterday.

"We're not expecting an announcement but we're hopeful that there's one just around the corner," Newton went on to say.

On Tuesday, Fletcher Building pulled down its fences at Ihumātao.

Yesterday, Kiingi Tūheitia went to Ihumātao for the symbolic removal of the Kiingitanga flag which was raised last August as a symbol of peace and unity, and which he said at the time would only come down once there was a resolution.

SOUL and Kiingi Tūheitia agreed yesterday was an appropriate day for the flag to come down, Newton said.

"I think that gives a sign that a resolution is imminent.

"Speaking with him (Kiingi Tūheitia) yesterday ... he was confident that where things are at with the discussion was a place he was happy with."

People have gathered at Ihumātao to welcome Kiingi Tūheitia.

The Kiingitanga flag was lowered and removed at Ihumātao yesterday. Photo: RNZ / Eden Fusituá

A spokesperson for the Kiingi Tūheitia said a deal hasn't been finalised, but the king is confident it is close.

"We are confident that a resolution will be reached before Waitangi," she said.

The government said yesterday it acknowledges the significance of the Kiingi Tūheitia's decision to lower his flag.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said a satisfactory settlement with Fletcher Building was an important part of a resolution.

But Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said a Waitangi Day deadline wasn't possible.

"What is happening and has been happening for some time is an attempt to find a way through this, but in the way the various commentators have been recorded unchallenged by the media as to what is happening, I can say that is a misrepresentation.

"This is an ongoing discussion that will take considerable time and work," he said.

Newton said Rātana celebrations will be an opportunity to honour the people who supported the fight to protect Ihumātao.

Thousands are expected to arrive at Rātana Pā near Whanganui over the next few days to celebrate its founder Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana.

Earlier, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told Morning Report there's been positive discussions between Auckland Council, the government and Kiingitanga.

"I think we've made real progress and there's real confidence that a resolution can and will be reached..."

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