Ihumātao protest: Māori Party calls for Jacinda Ardern to visit site

Calls for Jacinda Ardern to attend the protest at Ihumātao are growing as she gives no indication she intends to visit the site.

Protesters have been camped at the site for weeks fighting against a 480-house subdivision planned to be built there.

Opponents of the subdivision say the land is sacred and should not be built on, while supporters of it say a deal was agreed to with iwi and should be honoured.

Māori Party President Che Wilson told Newshub that Jacinda Ardern needs to step up and actually visit the site.

"She promised the nation at Waitangi that we have to hold her to account and every Māori issue that's come out so far she hides."

Ardern has sent two ministers to the site, Peeni Henare and Willie Jackson, but she said on Tuesday she has no intention of visiting.

"No plans at this stage. I haven't ruled out sometime down the track. But no intention at this stage," she told The AM Show.

Ardern has promised there will be no building activity on the land while it is under dispute and says the Government's role is to try and facilitate an end to the protest.

"I think the most important role for us to play as Government is [to] try and support and facilitate talks. They are obviously underway at present and they are ongoing," Ardern said.

"When it comes to what is happening on the ground... while people are there we just really urge there to be a peaceful protest to try and of course ensure a de-escalation."

Wilson's not happy with one part of the state's involvement in the protest, the police presence, which has been accused of being heavy-handed against protesters.

It was claimed leader Pania Newton was rammed into a gate on Monday, although police dispute this.

Wilson said he thinks the situation has similarities to Parihaka or the Tūhoe raids.

"They're trying to push us so that we then fight back and then we've broken the law. This whole kettling tactic is just dangerous, it's not good for our nation."

Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers said in a statement the police presence had increased due to statements from protesters that suggested they would break a cordon.

"Police reject allegations that a protestor was pushed over.

"There is misinformation being circulated suggesting that Police have broken agreements with protestors. 

"Police cannot facilitate unlawful activity by allowing protestors who have been served an eviction notice to trespass on private land."

Wilson said if he was there the distrust of the police could cause problems for a resolution.

"It may make people question whether they should attend meetings to find a resolution. If I was there I'd be questioning whether I need to go or not because the police might do something while I'm away."


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