'We can wait': Mau Whenua will occupy Shelly Bay until dispute is resolved

10:48 am on 21 January 2021

"We are resolute, we can wait." That's the message from iwi members and protesters occupying Wellington's Shelly Bay.

Mau Whenua supporters fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag at an occupation of Wellington's Shelly Bay.

Mau Whenua supporters fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag in November 2020 at the occupation of Shelly Bay. Photo: RNZ/ Charlotte Cook

Mau Whenua - a group of Taranaki Whanui members - upped the stakes yesterday, serving a trespass notice to property developer, The Wellington Company.

When three representatives of The Wellington Company arrived at Shelly Bay, members of Mau Whenua greeted them and promptly handed them the notice.

The encounter was filmed and then uploaded to social media.

Joshua Parata of Mau Whenua was there.

"Our purpose here is a peaceful protest," Parata said.

"We try to maintain that throughout this process of trespassing The Wellington Company.

"We maintain that we all stay calm. We're here peacefully. That's the mana we try [to] hold to."

In November, the Wellington City Council voted for the sale and lease of land at Shelly Bay to the The Wellington Company.

But Mau Whenua disagreed with the sale, and have since been occupying the land.

Mau Whenua spokesperson Anaru Mepham has been there from day one.

Anaru Mepham, who is a member of Mau Whenua, is leading an occupation at Shelly Bay in opposition to a planned seaside development.

Anaru Mepham. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"We believe that it is our whenua, and that it was illegally sold to The Wellington Company ... and we are wanting it returned."

On Tuesday, an email was sent to Mau Whenua from The Wellington Company.

It told them them they needed to "cease and desist", and remove themselves from the land.

The following morning, as Mau Whenua were having a hui to discuss their response, when officials from The Wellington Company arrived on the site.

Only to be handed with the trespass notice by Mau Whenua.

"As the occupiers of this whenua, we have rights. And our rights are that we control who comes on or off our property, just as any private landowner would have the right to control who does enter their property and who doesn't," Mepham said.

"Until the transaction of this whenua, this dispute, is resolved, we will hold this position."

They were prepared to stay there for as long as it took.

"It leaves us in this place of occupation, and we are firm, we are resolute. We can wait."

But they were still open to dialogue with The Wellington Company, and its head, Ian Cassels, Mepham said.

"We have quite a strong example of land misappropriation from Parihaka and Waitara in the Taranaki.

"We know that negotiations are a far better way to deal with these difficult situations than force."

Mau Whenua said they would deliver an official trespass notice at the company's office in the coming days.

Cassels did not respond to an RNZ request for comment.

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