Community protests against Fletcher Building development

A small south Auckland community is fighting to save 32 hectares of rural land from being developed into a Special Housing Area with 480 new homes.

The group says the land is historic and sacred and should instead become part of the reserve next to it.

Even on a grey and windy day, it's easy to see the beauty of the place. But eventually the 32 hectares won't look so green.

"It's we who are going to suffer the impact of this development - our community and my children's children," says Pania Newton.

Ms Newton grew up there. She says the land is unique and sacred and wants to see it protected as part of the Stonefields Historic Reserve, which is right next door.

A campaign group called SOUL - Save Our Unique Landscape - has been formed to fight the development.

Fletcher Building told Newshub it's got plans in place to protect the historical elements of the land, and it went through an extensive planning process, which included consulting with two iwi.

However, the two cultural impact statements that came back from those iwi opposed the development.

Fletcher's plans include setting aside 25 percent of the land as a "protective buffer zone" for the environment.

Archaeologist Dave Vert has been researching the land since 1983. He says it likely contains burial sites, and is one of the last remaining pieces of historic land in Auckland. Even with protections in place, a housing development would destroy that.

"It's the last piece of land in Auckland that's like this. There is nothing else that has this intensive gardening settlement dating to the first settlement of Aotearoa on one side of the fence and on the other there's these open fields," he says.

"They're part of the story; they need to be part of the reserve."

Ms Newton says she'll stop at nothing to protect that history, even if it means occupying the land in protest.