Fletcher called on to return Ihumātao block after collecting $68 million in taxpayer-funded wage subsidies

Pania Newton, spokesperson for the disputed land block at Ihumātao, has again called on its current owner Fletcher Building to return the land to New Zealanders 'at no cost'.

"They should show some goodwill to the New Zealand public and to Aotearoa in allowing this whenua to be gifted back to the people to hold in trust for all New Zealanders to enjoy," she told The Hui.

It comes after it was revealed that Fletchers will cut 1000 jobs in New Zealand despite receiving $68 million in wage subsidies and reporting a profit of $259 million last year.

Newton says it's an insight into Fletcher's attitude.

"For me, it really goes to the heart of the company and their ethos and what they prioritise and that showed they prioritised capital gain over people."

The repossession of Ihumātao was one of the biggest news stories of 2019. But like most issues, it has been eclipsed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fletcher paid $19 million for the land, which it planned to develop into a housing project. It then asked for $40 million, more than double what it paid, after negotiations began to resolve the stand-off over the protection of Māori land rights and environmental values.

Newton also paid tribute to the workers being laid off by the corporate.

"My heart goes out to all the kaimahi who are impacted by this change."

Ihumātao. Photo credit: Pania Newton/supplied

Watch the full interview.