Ihumātao protest: Hope for resolution despite tense standoff with police

There is still hope for a resolution to the Ihumātao land dispute despite a tense night at the south Auckland site.

On Monday night, police Superintendent Jill Rogers confirmed to Newshub additional officers had been deployed to Ihumātao to ensure protest action remained peaceful and continue an ongoing dialogue with demonstrators.

While it's unknown how many new officers were sent out to the Mangere site which has been the scene of demonstrations for weeks now, reports from protesters suggest it could have been as many as 60.

"Everyone was cooking sausage sizzles, singing songs, doing what we do with our tamariki, with our kids. Next minute the lines just started pushing forward," said activist Haki Wilson.

Wilson says he is unsure why police numbers increased on Monday night, but was still optimistic about dialogue between those in dispute.

"Just go back to the table, we will sit down with the whanau, and we will come up with some kinds of solutions to where we can make both parties understand the situation."

After the Monday night standoff, the Protect Ihumātao Twitter account said protesters had managed to "reclaim the road and reconnect with our front line whanau".

Spt Rogers said the situation continues to be monitored, and the operational response by police would continue to be assessed.

The AM Show reporter Elizabeth White told the show on Tuesday morning that the situation deescalated at about 1am, but there is still a police presence. She said only about 30 protesters remain on the front line.

Thousands have flocked to the site from across New Zealand demanding the cancellation of a housing development planned for the site to be built by Fletchers. The demonstrations began after police presented an eviction notice to allow the developers to begin construction.

Some protesters are calling for Tuesday to be deemed a "national day of action", with demonstrations to occur outside Fletchers buildings and other subsidiary companies.

"The day of action is to build on the solidarity shown in the last week when protectors moved onto the whenua to preserve 'ahi kaa' and support mana whenua on the land. The call is now going nationwide and beyond Aotearoa, through a coordinated day of action," a statement from Ihumātao protectors said.

The 480-house development is planned for the area but protesters say the land, which is one of the country's earliest settlements, should be protected.

Members of both sides of the debate say they are mana whenua and have a level of authority over the land.

The leader of the Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) movement and the protest, Pania Newton, has family connections to the land. But some local kaumatua support the housing development programme.

Last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she had met with Auckland Council, Fletchers, and other parties and came away with a temporary halt to construction until a solution had been found.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said last week that the Government wanted to speak to those who had "kept the land warm all these centuries".

"Let's not have some of the statements by, in particular, people who don't belong there, who have not kept the land warm all these centuries, who are not in authority or do not have the mana to speak on behalf of them, let's not have this sort of media circus," he said.


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