Protestors unite on 'the latest injustice to Māori'

Protesters form human chain around proposed SHA. (Supplied)
Protesters form human chain around proposed SHA. (Supplied)
A protest has been held against a Special Housing Area at Ihumatao in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere.

The group Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) coordinated the demonstration against the Auckland Council and Government designated Special Housing Area 62.

Protesters formed a human chain across the contested land on which Fletcher Building plans to build around 480 new homes on 32 hectares.

Protestors unite on 'the latest injustice to Māori'

(Supplied)

SOUL spokesperson Pania Newton told Newshub the area has massive cultural significance to local Māori with some families being settled there for the last 800 years.

"This area is the oldest continually occupied Māori settlement in Auckland. The waahi tapu [sacred areas] help us link back to our ancestors," said Ms Newton.

"It's been well documented that it was confiscated [in 1863] because the mana whenua [community] refused to pledge allegiance to the Queen, so because they were stanch to the Kīngitanga movement - the Maori King movement, they were forced to retreat."

Ms Newton said the special housing area was the latest in a series of injustices the people of Ihumatao and surrounding areas have faced and claims the village was the last in the area to get essential services like electricity.

"The electricity and a wastewater system actually came all the way to the bridge at the beginning of our village, stopped and started at the first European farmers house."

Ms Newton added that more recently the Mangere Wastewater plant and other industrial pollution meant local kaimoana [seafood] was no longer edible and awa [rivers] no longer usable. She said quarrying meant sacred mountains were dug out and are no longer visible.

"We've sacrificed enough, we've suffered enough."

Protestors unite on 'the latest injustice to Māori'

(Supplied)

The Labour, Greens and Māori Party have similar positions in support of the mana whenua. They all expressed concerns that Māori interests in the area were being overrun.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei said the Government should revoke the use of the land for housing development.

"There is no need for that land to be used for housing," said Ms Turei.

"Housing needs to be built in Auckland that's absolutely true, the best option is to intensify in the areas where there is already housing rather than desecrating waahi tapu sites."

Labour MP for Mangere Su'a William Sio expressed concern at the lack of planning for infrastructure.

"There seems to be no planning for public transport to move these extra people around, there's no parks and playgrounds."

Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said his party had raised the issue with the Minister for Housing Dr Nick Smith, who acknowledged the area's cultural significance.

He added the protests appear to show a lack of progress on the issue.

Dr Smith was not immediately available for comment.

Newshub.

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