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Wellington joins national day of action to protect Ihumatao

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tomorrow Wellingtonians will join people around Aotearoa to demand Fletcher Construction respects Te Tiriti o Waitangi and stops plans to build at Ihumātao in Auckland. People will protest at Fletchers sites around the country tomorrow, February 15th, in solidarity with mana whenua in Auckland who are calling for the return of this sacred and archaeologically and ecologically unique land.

Protestors will gather at Fletchers offices at 236 Middleton Road, Churton Park, from 9:30 am.

‘As Fletcher's seem to be having trouble respecting the treaty, we'll be inviting them to a free Tiriti o Waitangi workshop at their premises in Churton Park!’ said local Ihumātao supporter and SOUL Solidarity Pōneke spokesperson, Te Ao Pritchard.

‘Together, we'll learn more about Te Tiriti, sing waiata and share some kai.’

Ihumātao was confiscated under the New Zealand Settlements Act in 1863 as part of the colonial invasion of Waikato that drove mana whenua from their lands. Now, using the developer-friendly provisions of the Special Housing Areas Act 2013, Fletchers have been able to purchase the land and plan to develop it with unaffordable housing.

‘This is colonisation in action. The mana whenua of the land were driven from it illegally once, and now Te Tiriti obligations are again being ignored and this culturally sacred land is being threatened further.’ said Pritchard.

SOUL (Save our Unique Landscape), led by local mana whenua, have been campaigning for years to protect Ihumātao. Having exhausted their legal avenues to stop development, they are now calling on people from around Aotearoa to join them in demanding Fletchers stop construction.

According to Pania Newton, SOUL Spokesperson, "Our people are nothing without this land. It defines our identity, health and wellbeing."

SOUL are currently occupying land at Ihumātao and Fletchers plan to start construction soon. SOUL have called for collective action and support in an effort to stop a confrontation on the land.

‘We invite anyone in Wellington who wants to stand against colonisation and racism to join us at Fletchers tomorrow at 9am. If you’re unable to make it, we invite you to call or email Fletchers and let them know how you feel.’’, said Pritchard.

‘We often look back at events like Bastion Point and think that we would have been on the right side of history. Now is the time to take a stand and protect Ihumātao and support mana whenua fighting to get back land the government stole.’ said Pritchard.

"SOUL is doing everything possible to avoid confrontation on the land. But our kaumatua are preparing to stand in front of the bulldozers if they come," said Pania Newton.

"Our plea to Fletcher is this: Don’t send in the bulldozers or the Police. Let’s work this out around the table with Government Auckland Council, Iwi and other interested parties." said SOUL spokesperson Brendan Corbett.

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