Development opponents considering Ihumātao-style occupation following Wellington council vote to sell, lease land

Members of a Wellington iwi have warned city councillors that a controversial housing development will be the capital's Ihumātao.

The Shelly Bay development is one step closer to becoming reality after the council voted on Wednesday to sell and lease land for the project.

But opponents are vowing to fight on, with iwi saying they're devastated and are considering occupying the land.

Developer Ian Cassels bought the land from Wellington iwi Taranaki whānui, but a group within the iwi, Mau Whenua, dispute that sale and have gone to court to challenge it. 

Mau Whenua member Catherine Love believes the piece of land sold to Cassels "should be iwi land".

The council had already voted to sell the land, but controversy surrounding the project prompted a second vote. Six councillors voted against the sale, including Mayor Andy Foster. 

"There's not many things I would lose sleep over but this would definitely be one of them. So much passion behind it," he said.

That passion prompted Love to deliver a karanga as Foster announced the vote, and she told them her ancestors were weeping.

"Councillors, this is your Ihumātao moment," she said.

Ihumātao is a proposed development in Auckland occupied by protestors - a move Love is considering.

"[Occupation] is one of the possible options."

The iwi isn't the only ones opposing it. Sir Peter Jackson labelled Cassels' plans a "Soviet-style apartment block".

Cassels maintains the redevelopment will benefit the capital and wants work to start in the New Year. 

"Go go go, I say," he said.

Despite ongoing legal action, he said this council vote has given his development the green light.