Wellington iwi group Mau Whenua to occupy Shelly Bay development land

A Wellington iwi has declared it will illegally occupy land at Shelly Bay in Wellington. 

It follows the approval of a controversial $500 million development by the Wellington City Council this month.

Developer Ian Cassels bought the land from Wellington iwi Taranaki Whānui, but a group within the iwi, Mau Whenua, are challenging that.

"Responding to the Wellington City Council's vote and to Ian Cassels' challenge, [Mau Whenua] are coming in today to occupy this whenua," iwi member Anaru Mepham said.

Cassels owns most of the waterfront land, and the council has agreed to sell and lease him the last slice he needs for his 350 house development. 

Despite two active court cases he is planning on starting work soon. So now it's Ihumātao all over again. 

"We're doing it gently, so we don't have facilities, as you can see, for large numbers of people," Mepham said.

"We don't feel that we're under any threat at this point, however, if that threat was to eventuate we would respond accordingly."

The group is promising to occupy the site until the High Court case in March to challenge the legality of who owns the land.

Wellington City Councillor Sean Rush is also voicing his support. 

"I'm so devastated, I'm so sorry. The decision made by council was not done as a consequence of robust thinking-through and listening to people and good policy," he said. 

Councillor Fleur Fitzsimmons was one of those who voted in favour of development. She says it will give iwi the ability to make most of its treaty settlement.  

"All Wellington residents have an interest in the council addressing the housing crisis. We cannot keep opposing housing developments no matter who they're for," she said in a statement.

"The current state of Shelly Bay is not ideal but with an upgrade to the road, improved infrastructure and better amenities, it will be a place residents will be proud of.

"I supported the sale and lease of land so mana whenua can make the most of their treaty settlement."

Something these iwi members clearly disagree with.