23 Aug 2019

Reports of Waikato-Tainui buying Ihumātao is speculation - Pania Newton

9:04 am on 23 August 2019

One of the leaders of the Ihumātao occupation says reports that Waikato-Tainui is going to buy the disputed land is only speculation.

Protest banners at Ihumatao

Protest banners at Ihumatao Photo: Nicole Hunt

Media have reported this morning that Waikato-Tainui is set to purchase the land from owners Fletcher Building.

Co-founder of Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL), the group leading the occupation movement, Pania Newton told Morning Report she hadn't heard anything about a sale.

"I've not heard anything, I'm surprised myself ... we're still staying on the whenua, for as long as it takes to find a resolution."

She said it's not moral or ethical for Waikato-Tainui to buy the land, despite appreciating the support from the iwi, as she said it's the role of the Crown to find a resolution.

"Whatever the resolution might be, which the whānau have to be happy with, at some stage the Crown has to take responsibility for the confiscation in 1863 and again in 2016."

Tainui has historical links to Ihumātao and the whenua was believed to be occupied by Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Whātua, and groups connected to Waikato-Tainui (Ngāti Tamaoho, Te Ahiwaru, Ngāti Tai Ki Tāmaki, Ngāti Te Ata, Te Ākitai Waiohua, and Te Kawerau ā Maki).

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.

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

Pania Newton told Morning Report she hadn't heard anything about a sale Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Earlier this month when Kiingi Tūheitia visited Ihumātao with a group of more than 400 people, Ms Newton spoke of being energised by the visit and of working with Waikato-Tainui to find a solution to the dispute.

"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 our marae Pukaki and Makaurau, to begin to find a resolution for Ihumātao."

This week, during his annual address at Tūrangawaewae marae on the 13th anniversary of his coronation, Kiingi Tūheitia said he was encouraged by the kaupapa to date but progress would take time.

"Under my korowai and protection the mana whenua can talk freely. They have waited 150 years for their confiscated whenua, they deserve time and space to consider the future of their ancestral land."

Those occupying the whenua set off on a hīkoi yesterday from Ihumātao to the Prime Minister's electoral office in Mount Albert to deliver a petition urging her to visit the whenua. The petition was signed by over 26,000 people.

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