Ngāti Pāoa members occupying a site at Putiki Bay on Waiheke Island are vowing to stay put until the resource consent for the development of a marina is revoked.
They said they were not consulted appropriately about the marina being led by developer Kennedy Point Boatharbour Ltd.
For iwi members and environmentalists, the safety and protection of kororā penguins at the site is of major concern.
Ngā Uri o Ngāti Pāoa spokesperson Emily Maia Weiss said the area was tapu and the iwi wanted to be heard.
She said the 7.3ha of moana allocated to the marina was public ocean space that many on Waiheke and the iwi appreciated, and to lose it to a private development was something they would not stand for.
"Our kaupapa from when we arrived has always been that we wanted to be heard, as manawhenua, as Ngāti Pāoa"
"We believe our mātauranga, our connections with the bay, our stories and our knowledge of how that area is tapu, is sacred, is special should not be built on" she said.
Since early March this year, iwi descendants and environmentalists have been occupying the land where the proposed marina is to be built.
Resource consent was initially granted to Kennedy Point Boatharbour Ltd by Auckland Council in 2016, but the plans for the marina have not gone without opposition.
Weiss said Auckland Council did not seek to consult Ngāti Pāoa properly as only a couple of people who did not have the mandate to represent the iwi were involved in discussions.
She said the iwi wanted the council to repair the mamae caused by listening to the concerns of the iwi as well as the mātauranga they had about the site and wider Waiheke in the environment court, with hopes of caning the proposed marina altogether.
"It was council who acted unlawfully in not consulting the mandated entity, the Ngāti Pāoa Trust Board, and signed off on it, and it is their responsibility to ensure it remains compliant, not those who don't want it in our wāhi tapu and bay", ngā Uri o Ngāti Pāoa said in a statement.
Developers have temporarily paused construction while they await interim orders to be decided.
This came after multiple concerns were raised by the public about the safety and security of the kororā as well as the environment at Waiheke, and an application for an injunction and judicial review was submitted by campaigners against Auckland Council, DOC and Kennedy Point Boatharbour Ltd.
However, exemptions have been granted to the developers for carrying out necessary steps "to make the site safe" which Ngāti Pāoa and protectors have said is still increasingly concerning as they are worried that, under these restrictions, harm may still come to the kororā.
Under these restrictions, the developer is allowed to conduct health and safety infrastructure on items on the site/water; small boat or barge movements; and monitoring activities.
The iwi said this work was not being monitored and drilling taking place near the site to install temporary fencing was not compliant.
According to the iwi, Kennedy Point Boat Harbour Ltd last month had to adjust and retract a ring of black buoys installed around their equipment at the site.
Campaigners observed as the buoys clashed with breakwater which led to concerns the kororā would be unable to enter or exit their homes for food.
To meet Auckland Council's compliance standards, the buoys were pulled away from the breakwater but the iwi and protectors are still not convinced and have since met with the council compliance team and DOC to arrange for more stringent monitoring of the site to be introduced.
Weiss said the underlying issues for the marina needed to go back to the environment court and Auckland Council had the mandate to make that happen.
She said the Ngāti Pāoa trust board, as well as over 3000 other Ngāti Pāoa descendants, need to be consulted.
"This is exactly the issue, systems that allow for a very surface level consultation to occur never end up taking into account the realities of colonisation, the dispersed nature of our iwi, which then ends up facilitating consents to most developments being granted" she said.
"Ngā Uri o Ngāti Paoa look forward to our rights under Article II of Te Tiriti being properly addressed in the very near future by all our Tiriti partners with respect to this development" ngā Uri o Ngāti Paoa said.
[h] Kennedy Point Marina response
The Marina says it understands it’s a complex issue. Director Kitt Littlejohn said during the consent process Kennedy Point Boat Harbour Ltd consulted with the recognised Ngāti Paoa iwi entity, the Ngāti Paoa Iwi Trust, and other mana whenua as dictated by Council.
“As part of the project's Mana Whenua Engagement Plan, the company continues to consult with the Ngāti Paoa Iwi Trust, as well as the Ngāti Paoa Trust Board which became a council-recognised entity after the consent was granted, in regards to the building of the marina and its future operation,” Littlejohn said.
Construction crew had e been on-site at Kennedy Point over the last couple of weeks to strengthen security in response to serious concerns regarding the health and safety of the public, construction crew and protestors, the company said.
The measures implemented included increased on-site signage and on land and on water fencing, and additional security personnel.
“It was the recent actions of protesters that caused the buoys to make contact with the rocks for one night, when they deliberately positioned themselves between the rocks and buoys, undid the shackles securing the buoys and delayed the construction crew from being able to secure them in place. This was rectified immediately the following morning.” Littlejohn said.
The company said t had no reason to think that the penguins were impeded by the buoys.
“Kororā are able to swim beneath the buoys and get under the rocks and have been observed doing so regularly by on-site personnel since they were put in place. These buoys were specifically sourced for this reason.”