South Auckland housing protesters get UN representative's backing

The United Nations is expected to issue a report in the coming weeks about a controversial housing development in south Auckland.

Pania Newton and Delwyn Roberts arrived back in New Zealand on Friday after addressing the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues.

The pair are from Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL), a group set up to protest a 480-home Fletchers Residential development at Ihumātao.

The land's status as a Special Housing Area was upheld last year by Auckland Council, despite local Māori claiming it as wāhi tapu or sacred. 

Ms Newton told Newshub they received a lot of support for their cause at the UN.

"The special rapporteur on human rights has agreed to lodge individual communications with the [New Zealand] Government regarding our issue here at Ihumātao, particularly around the breaches of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that were lodged against the Government, [Auckland] Council, and Fletchers Residential.

Ms Newton says SOUL is not anti-housing; pointing to the fact the group is not challenging any of the other housing developments in the Māngere area.

She says the land in question has historical, cultural and archaeological significance.


  • 1863: The land at Ihumātao is confiscated by the British out of punishment for local Māori supporting the Kīngitanga movement.
  • 2012: The Environment Court rules all rural land west of Auckland Airport should be designated as future urban space. This ends a plan from the Manukau District Council era called the Māngere Gateway Heritage project that would have seen Ihumātao protected.
  • May 2014: The Government and Auckland Council designate the land at Ihumātao a Special Housing Area.
  • Jan 2015: SOUL is formed in opposition to the move.
  • May 2016: Auckland Council upholds its decision to keep the site as a Special Housing Area, despite strenuous community opposition.
  • April 2017: SOUL members address the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues.

The group also held a number of rallies, built a stone whare, set up a virtual occupation of the land and threatened a Bastion Point-type occupation if construction goes ahead.