Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Ihumātao, South Auckland over the weekend to protest against Fletcher Building’s planned housing development, known as SHA62.
Text and photos by Qiane Matata-Sipu.
The ‘Take a Stand on the Land’ action saw kaumātua, kuia, families, students, activists and unions take to the lower slopes of the tupuna maunga, Te Puketaapapatanga ā Hape, to create a human ‘protective arch’ and spell the word SOUL (representing the three and a half year campaign by the group Save Our Unique Landscape).
Amongst the festival atmosphere, which included live music by Polynesian Panthers co-founder Tigilau Ness, there was a strong sense of solidarity.
Dr Haare Williams and Ihumātao kaumātua Maurice Wilson Jr opened the event with karakia and, encouraging words of support.
Dr Williams, a Ringatu minister and recipient of the New Zealand Order of Merit, made an extraordinary offer: if the government could not find a solution to the housing problem in Auckland without the land at Ihumatao being taken, then he would consider returning his New Zealand Order of Merit.
Read more: Bringing the fight for Ihumātao to K Road
Ihumātao whānau were joined by political and Māori leaders, including long-time activist Hone Harawira, Auckland Councillor Cathy Casey and, Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson.
Councillor Cathy Casey has supported the decision to repeal SHA62 since hearing SOUL whānau speak at a meeting in 2015.
Davison addressed the crowd expressing her ongoing commitment to the campaign: “We are now partners in government…we have access to the levers of power to try and change this and make sure that Ihumātao remains protected. It is my accountability to try and push that through.”