The fight for prized land in the heart of Tāmaki Makaurau has commenced with a 500-strong hīkoi to Auckland's High Court.
Members of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are marching along the city's waterfront on Tuesday, marking the opening of a 10-week trial challenging historic Crown policy regarding land claims in Auckland Central.
Accompanied by hordes of supporters, the hapū left Ōrākei Marae on Bastion Point at around 6am and will hīkoi to the High Court to attend the opening proceedings.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is challenging the Crown's proposal to give two of its significant land sites, without permission, to an iwi from the Hauraki region to settle their Treaty claims.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei's deputy chair, Ngarimu Blair, told Breakfast that the Crown should have spoken with the hapū before offering land to other iwi.
It is a historic day for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, with roughly 500 people singing, chanting and emanating tangible passion as the peaceful procession makes its way to the city centre.
"There has been a massive turnout… you can really feel the passion in this group over this significant day," Newshub reporter Lauren Hendricksen said from Tamaki Drive.
"They are super excited, it's a historic day… the wairua in this group is truly incredible to feel."
A protester told Hendricksen that rain showered the group as a karakia was performed before departing Ōrakei Marae, signalling to the hapū that their ancestors were with them.
The protesters have stopped at the two land sites involved in the claims proceedings, the old pā site, Taurarua, and the former fishing village Waipapa in Parnell's Judge's Bay. A haka and a kaikaranga, a ceremonial call, were performed to welcome the group.
It has taken nearly seven years for the hapū to have their case heard.
At around 9:15am, Hendricksen said the protesters had reached the High Court and presented representatives with pounamu in an emotionally-charged greeting before beginning to waiata.