1 Mar 2022

Auckland Domain protest: Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei wants it brought to a swift end

6:30 pm on 1 March 2022

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei says it is disturbed by an occupation by protesters at the Auckland Domain, and wants it brought to a swift end.

tents pitched at the Auckland Domain protest camp.

Tents pitched at the protest in the Auckland Domain. Photo: Katie Doyle

A small group of anti-mandate protesters have set up camp on the domain, which is an ancient pā site significant to Ngāti Whātua. A trespass notice has been served to the group, which numbers about 30.

Some protesters have claimed mana whenua of the site, and have drawn comparisons to occupations like Bastion Point.

But an iwi spokesperson, Ngarimu Blair, said that is not the case at all.

"We're unequivocal: We are the tangata whenua of Central Auckland and of that site, Pukekaroa and Waikohanga," he told RNZ.

"Our taumata kaumātua, our council of elders, have not supported this occupation; our trust board - who our people elect to represent our hapū here in Tāmaki - do not support that occupation.

"We have let the council and the police know that the people there have no tribal authority," Blair said.

Since Saturday, tents have been erected at the domain, the sites of ancient pā of significance to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Signs at the Auckland Domain protest camp.

One of the signs at the Auckland Domain protest camp. Photo: Marika Khabazi

Sympathy for mana whenua in Wellington - Ngarimu Blair

In Wellington, it is day 22 of protesters occupying Parliament grounds and there, mana whenua Taranaki Whānui have also called for the protest to be wound up.

Yesterday, Te Kahu o te Raukura - a cloak of peace - was laid down at a dawn ceremony.

Wellington iwi have said kaumatua and kuia have been threatened, marae vandalised, and the whenua tarnished. Last week, protesters went through the back of nearby Pipitea Marae and served a bogus trespass notice - a flagrant breach of tikanga.

In Tāmaki Makaurau, Ngarimu Blair said he sympathised with mana whenua in Wellington. He called for the Auckland Domain occupation to come to a swift end.

"We're generally annoyed when people drive over our special sites like Pukekaroa on any day, let alone in this context of a pandemic where many of our communities, our Māori communities, are very vulnerable," he said.

Blair said Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei was busy supporting thousands of whānau who are struggling either with Covid-19 or having to self-isolate.

"It is definitely spreading and these occupations and large gatherings just fly in the face of all the hard work Aucklanders have put in over the last two years.

"Our team have provided financial support where it's needed, we've provided food cooked out of our wharekai, delivered that to those who need it. [We're] providing food vouchers, we're providing RAT testing at the moment. Just tautoko generally, we call it being a good cousin."

Blair said it was concerning to see Māori as part of such occupations, and said the iwi had gone out of its way to help whānau. He said they were there if they had any questions.

"We've always said to whānau if you want or need information, we're all here for them. We have whānau on the phones, we have whānau who are working in the vaccination centres who can provide information and answer questions.

"We have weekly kapa haka on Zoom, we have weekly te reo lessons. These are ways to just get whānau thinking about things other than Covid, and turning them to the good stuff, which is our reo, our stories and our whakapapa, and our stories of our amazing ancestors."

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