3 Aug 2019

Ihumātao: Protesters accept Kiingitanga's offer to host hui

9:05 pm on 3 August 2019

Those against a development at Ihumātao have accepted the Kiingitanga's offer to host a hui for all mana whenua to find a resolution.

Kiingi Tuheitia making his annual speech at Turangawaewae in August 2016

Kiingi Tūheitia. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

In the rain this morning, Kiingi Tūheitia arrived at Ihumātao with a group of more than 400 people to listen to mana whenua and their supporters who have been occupying the land south of Auckland where Fletcher Building plans to build 480 homes.

It is a significant event for those at the site, especially with the Kiingitanga previously showing support to the development with Fletchers saying they had committed returning 25 percent of the land that it owns to the Kiingitanga.

A marae representative, Ngāti Tahinga Wilson, said they were grateful the King answered their call to come.

"We received him with rangimārie [peace] and we are honoured to fly the King's flag."

Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) representative Pania Newton said they had never been certain of the King's position on the development and were hopeful they could move forward to a solution.

"Our whānau are energised and encouraged by the visit today.

"We are very hopeful and inspired and motivated that we are going to undertake a process whereby we can sit with Waikato-Tainui, and our Kiingitanga as well as out marae Pukaki and Makaurau, to begin to find a resolution for Ihumātao."

Kaikōrero (speakers) from both sides shared their views. History of the area was also shared, including a story about the first Māori King, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, receiving his title at Ihumātao.

The first waiata tautoko on the Kiingitanga side was, e noho ana i te ranga maheuheu, which was what Pōtatau Te Wherowhero recited after receiving the kingship.

People did not shy away from talking about their raruraru (difficulty), and kaumatua Erueti Rakena told the Kiingitanga that Ihumātao had suffered enough at the hands of the Crown.

Te Kawerau a Maki iwi authority has the recognised mandate for the area and has backed the development and its chair Te Warena Taua was part of the King's ope (entourage) today, and is understood to be the first time he has visited the whenua since the eviction notices were served. He did not speak.

Prior to the kōrero, a Kiingitanga flag was raised. It will remain there and returned once a resolution is reached.

On the King's behalf spokesperson Rukumoana Schaafhausen, said he would not be drawn on what position they took on the development but said a formal invitation was made to all mana whenua to meet.

"The Kiingitanga is here for all mana whenua. The issues are complex, which is why all mana whenua have been invited.

"The next step is to come together with their leadership, under the mantle of the King to listen. So that is not about picking sides, it's about listening to mana whenua [holders of authority over land]."

SOUL and mana whenua representatives have accepted the offer.

"For us we support a tikanga process, and are honoured, proud and privileged the Kiingitanga and Waikato-Tainui are willing to start that process for us," Ms Newton said.

The government nor Fletcher building will be part of the hui.

The Kiingitanga have suggested meeting before 14 August.

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