Christmas at Ihumātao: Land occupiers full of holiday cheer as dispute enters fifth month

One of the local stories that dominated the news this year was the land occupation at Ihumātao which is now entering its fifth month.

For many still living at the site, Christmas Day was a time to reflect on the past and continue to hope for a resolution.

Preparation of the fried bread was a sure-fire sign that a gathering was about to take place, and at Ihumātao, many were keen to celebrate Raumati or the Summer Solstice.

A dozen families relaxed and enjoyed time with their whanau.

It's a stark contrast to July when an eviction notice was served by Fletcher Building to those occupying the land.

"Things are so much calmer here on the whenua, it's warmer, the weather's way better, but there is still aroha," Quiane Matata-Sipu told Newshub.

Christmas at Ihumātao was for one for the children; tamariki were treated to a grab-bag of gifts.

"It is the next generation who we are always thinking for and what they can have that will enable them to thrive and not just survive," Matata-Sipu said.

Most of the presents were courtesy of fundraising and the generosity of others.

"I was really emotional eh to see them get something each - because you know you can't afford these things," Hinganohu Te Wehi told Newshub.

Tensions between those against the building project and Police in July, a stark contrast to today's friendly visit.

Christmas came two days early for occupiers - who have moved into a house owned by Fletchers.

Having lived in a makeshift village for five months, they're now finally able to finally enjoy some home comforts.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had wanted the land dispute resolved by the end of this year.

"We are only days away from that," Matata-Sipu said. "I don't think it's going to be wrapped by the end of the calendar year but we feel like getting so much closer to a resolution."