Ihumātao protesters chant at final Auckland Council meeting

11:57 am on 26 September 2019

Ihumātao protesters have interrupted the last Auckland Council meeting of this term, singing, chanting and unfurling protest signs.

SOUL protesters at the last Auckland Council meeting of the term.

SOUL protesters at the last Auckland Council meeting of the term. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

The group Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL), which wants land owned by Fletchers returned to mana whenua, wants the council to work with the government to find a solution.

About 50 protesters sat quietly through the first 40 minutes of the meeting before standing up together during an unrelated debate and saying council must act.

Standing behind a large sign which said "The Council must be part of the solution", they called out slogans and chants about protecting the land before finishing with a waitā.

Councillors stopped talking during the protest, which lasted for about five minutes before the group left. As they filed out, the protesters chanted as they made their way down the three levels of stairs and out the door.

One woman shouted to mayor Phil Goff that she would vote for him if he helped the people.

The group then picketed outside the town hall, with more singing and chanting and the odd supportive beep from passing Queen Street traffic.

Organiser Pania Newton said they were frustrated at being continually ignored by the council so turned up to make their voices heard.

The Māori king, Kiingi Tūheitia, last week announced mana whenua had come to an agreement that the land at Ihumātao should be returned to them.

The land near Auckland Airport has been occupied by members of the SOUL group for almost three years to oppose Fletcher Residential from building 480 houses there. The occupation ramped up on 23 July after police occupiers with an eviction notice.

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