Arnhem Land and Ihumātao

Written By: - Date published: 8:28 am, August 5th, 2019 - 44 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, australian politics, Maori Issues - Tags:


Sometimes I wonder if our race relations are any better than that in Australia.

In March this year the Australian High Court ordered the Northern Territory government to pay $2.35m compensation in compensation for loss of native land rights.

This was for 53 acts by the Northern Territory Government that encroached on those land rights. The people taking the claim were the Ngaliwurru and Nungali people from Timber Creek in the Northern Territory. This was the first time in the Court’s 118 year history that it had sat in Darwin, and first time they had got cash compensation from the government.

The implications were big at the time, and they are about to get potentially a lot bigger.

This case has strengthened the resolve of the Gumatj people from the Gove Peninsula in northern Arnhem Land to get compensation. Back in 1971 these same people took the Nabalco Company to court in the first ever native title litigation.

They lost, and the judge cited the doctrine of terra nulls in his judgement.

In a minor redemption, that loss led to the Northern Territory land rights law.

Now with that 2019 Timber Creek precedent strengthening their hand, they are going to have a better crack at it.

There’s no real black and white: the local people are well integrated with the mining company and are beneficiaries of that mine.

Same here, potentially, at Ihumātao.

There are always deals to be done, levers to be operated to coordinated effect which are symbolic, and media, and legal, and commercial, and native, and political.

In New Zealand, the Kīngitanga are weighing in with their symbolic force into the Ihumātao protest. That’s a significant move. I’m pretty skeptical about the Māori King undercutting the elders who did the deal with Fletchers.

But I’ve been proven wrong before.

It signals more levers are being operated. There will be a deal afoot, the only question is how much more can be gained for Māori. Not a bad thing in this tough game as the protesters sit out winter.

Who knows, maybe our legal system still has something to learn – from the Australians – about compensation for loss of indigenous land rights.

lprent: This post was accidentally deleted by a cron job removing RSS feeds. The system history recorded it as being deleted at 1526 hours by the process, as a new RSS feeder plugin was being installed. I recovered it and its comments from a backup at 1511 hours. My apologies about any comments lost between the two times.

According to the logs, nothing else apart from this post and the required RSS feed posts was destroyed. Looks like some kind of code glitch with several jobs running at once over the same areas of the database. I haven’t seen that happen for decades, and the last time was when I was writing the db engine..

44 comments on “Arnhem Land and Ihumātao”

  1. Dukeofurl 1

    A deal ? So Aucklanders get open space for a place they wont visit- even in Summer it can be pretty bleak…there is similar open space on the coast south of the airport that also very few visit.

    The iwi get nothing in that deal as they cant afford to develop land and build houses

    • Muttonbird 1.1

      Bleak to some is magical to others.

      I spent a few days at Ōtuataua in 2014, working. And on a beautiful Summer afternoon it was the most incredible spot I have ever been to in Auckland.

      I have lived here all my life.

      • vto 1.1.1

        Muttonbird, that was entirely the point of my post a few days that you got all upset about. All that post said was that it is clearly such a magical spot, as you say above, that is has always been the preferred living location for migrant peoples. Was originally, has been since, was in 2014, remains so today and will be into the future. 

        All that post called for was that your point above is not lost in the current debate

      • Dukeofurl 1.1.2

        Mountain and stonefields are all now all public open space. Ive been a number of times ,  however its rarely visited by others. 

        My point is its open space for Aucklanders who dont care for it. Creating larger open space  doesnt nothing for the iwi.

        • mauī

          "Creating larger open space  doesnt nothing for the iwi."

          Sounds like you have completely ignored what the protesters and one side of the iwi want.

  2. Dukeofurl 2

    Not sure why the High Court decision is  seen as having 'big implications'

    "These appeals concern the amount of compensation payable by the Northern Territory of Australia to the Ngaliwurru and Nungali Peoples ("the Claim Group")2 , pursuant to Pt 2 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), for loss, diminution, impairment or other effect of certain acts on the Claim Group's native title rights and interests over lands in the area of the township of Timber Creek in the north-western area of the Northern Territory.

    (a) compensation for economic loss in the sum of $320,250;

    (b) interest on (a) in the sum of $910,100;

    (c) compensation for cultural loss in the sum of $1,300,000;

    Total: $2,530,350.

    And what did the trial judge decide ?

    The trial judge assessed compensation in the amount of $3,300,661 comprised as follows:

    So it was a reduction in the High Court decision


  3. Muttonbird 3

    Who knows, maybe our legal system still has something to learn – from the Australians – about compensation for loss of indigenous land rights.

    What a terrible, terrible state this country would be in if we had to turn to Australia for guidance on indigenous rights.

  4. mauī 4

    No surprise the Colonizers 2.0 are pushing more shonky deals here. Let us develop your land and we'll throw you some crumbs they say. 

    • vto 4.1

      You do mean Colonisers 3.0, or maybe even 4.0 or 5.0. All peoples who have arrived have been colonisers. Haven't they?

      • mauī 4.1.1

        So because injustices of varying degrees have always existed we can just turn a blind eye to the most recent recorded injustice 🙄

        Let me guess you think Teina Pora and all those kids mistreated in state care should just get over it…

    • Dukeofurl 4.2

      "No surprise the Colonizers 2.0 are pushing more shonky deals here"

      You do know that te Kawerau a Maki were later 'colonisers' over iwi that were at Ihumutao ( indeed the isthmus) earlier- like Waiohua.

      At Waiuku today are their descendants Ngati Te ata o Waiohua.

      "The original name for Ihumātao is Te Ihu o Mataoho – The nose of Mataoho
      After the arrival of Pākeha the name change to suit them hence Ihumātao meaning cold nose."

      • mauī 4.2.1

        "You do know that te Kawerau a Maki were later 'colonisers' over iwi that were at Ihumutao ( indeed the isthmus) earlier- like Waiohua."

        Citation please.

        Assets won during battle is an entirely different prospect to breach of contract.

  5. Sabine 5

    Can someone explain to me how giving up land in exchange for '49 low income housing' is a good trade anywhere? 

    Also can someone explain why 'low income housing' rather then just '49 family homes'? 

    • Dukeofurl 5.1

      It was just a technicality of Special Housing area rules- its called affordable housing. Which it isnt in reality for low income. Thats a reality of Auckland

      Thats why Fletchers had  an agreement for 'shared equity'  ownership  with the iwi which is sometimes called Rent to buy.

      Would you prefer to give the iwi nothing but 'more open space' for Aucklanders as well as the mountain and stonefields thats a park now ?

      The iwi doesnt have money to  develop and build new homes  even if they owned land underneath.

      • Sabine 5.1.1

        i would prefer for Fletcher to go and find some golf course to develop – Auckland has way to many of them, and frankly considering the need for housing i think it would be better to use some of these, considering that quite a few of them are in Town, next to bus lines, train stations, with all the ammenities i.e. schools, shops etc, which this area has none to offer. 

        last but least because 49 'low income houses' out of 490 seems a crap deal to me, but please educate us how this is the best Fletcher could do, and how the Iwi will benefit from the '49 'low income houses'. 

        Cause frankly where i am looking at this, they could keep the land and start building one low income house after the other and they still would do better than that. 

        • Dukeofurl

          Auckland population increase is around 32,000 per year Every year

          480 homes in total were planned  thats around 2000 people

          Those Fletchers  houses will only provide for  3 weeks of Aucklands population growth 

          Wake up and smell the  housing shortage. You are living in a dreamland, where else will they go  as Nimbys are  active  all over Auckland.

          The choice isnt 49 homes for Iwi AND  more  open space for  the rest of Aucklanders. The iwi gets nothing

          • Dukeofurl

            "they could keep the land and start building one low income house after the other and they still would do better than that. "

            Is this the  your best play at 'fantasy home building'.

            Where does the Iwi get the money from to change farmland into sections and then build houses at construction cost of say $300k each . Each section would need around $150K to develop.

            Doesnt sound like you have any idea of  'what stuff costs'. For example cost to 'connect' to power network -$12,000 with labour costs extra.

            Similar cost to connect to watercare water /wastewater network , plus cost of  connection to  the mains. Developer has to build stormwater mains at their cost.

  6. veutoviper 6

    Advantage – where is "Ihumutao"?   (See your title, post and tag.)

    Never heard of it – and neither has Google.

    • Sabine 6.1

      it is in Auckland. 
      this is quite a good read and has pictures of hte land, the planned development and such. 

      Also the occupation has been going on for a few years.

      • veutoviper 6.1.1

        I know where it is Sabine – I posted the NZ Geographic article about this historic site on the original post /protect-ihumatao/#comment-1639776

        Check the (mis)spelling in the Title and in the body of this latest post.  The tag seems to have  now been corrected.

        • Sabine

          that is to fancy for me. 

          why not simply ask for a typo to be fixed? 

          • Muttonbird

            The typo confirms the author's, and some others', attitude to the situation and the area. To some it's a side issue of little importance which people are being over-sentimental about.


            • Sabine

              anyone can have a typo – i am a posterchild for typos. 

              but why not simply ask for it to be corrected rather then some silly snark that can throw people of? 

              Seriously, anyone can have a typo. I would not read something more into that. 

              • Muttonbird

                Ah, well. Everything in context, eh?

                • Sabine

                  yes, and sometimes a typo is a typo and you point it out to the author so he can correct it. Context right? 

                  • Muttonbird

                    I'm not saying it was deliberate. Just lazy.

                    I mean it's a big, wordy post with typically big, unconventional ideas.

                    It would have taken some careful deliberation, yet there's a massive clanger in the headline…of a very sensitive topic.

                    Sure people make typos, and that one didn’t upset me too much (I didn’t even notice it until VV’s comment), but in the context of AD’s recent detached and blasé musings on this issue I felt it was significant rather than insignificant.

                    • Incognito

                      Thank you all for pointing out the errors, which all have been corrected I think (and hope!).

                      Please be aware that not all posts go through a straight and direct line from Author to Post. Sometimes, it is a bit of mad rush to get things up in the morning and Authors (and Editors) have full-time jobs to attend.

                      Indeed, this is a sensitive topic and more attention should have been paid to get it right the first time. Please let me know if there are still any mistakes. If not, I hope we can move past this, as there definitely was no intention to cause offense.

                      Kind regards,


                • veutoviper


                  • Dukeofurl

                    yes . Thanks . I have added the correct spelling of Ihumatao to my spell checker as well to  guide me.

                    • veutoviper

                      My point was the sensitivity of the whole situation re Ihumatao* – and context as per Muttonbird's comment at 2.14pm that the misspellings were in a fairly contentious post on that situation. For example, I also can understand Sabine's sensitivity re typos etc but her's are in a completely different context.  I really admire her command of English and ability to debate here in it as a second language – and her typos are of no conseqnence in that context imo.  

                      On the wider subject of place names etc, the living nature of language has always been of interest to me and my university studies included that very subject.  So rather than having any problem with them,  I have actually appreciated your comments on the evolving changes to the name of the area currently called Ihumatao*  – and also re Porirua.   

                      *  The pedant in me is now getting annoyed at not being able to use the macron – except by finding an instance of it spelt with the macron, copying it and then pasting into the comment!  Ggggrrrr/LOL

            • veutoviper

              My reaction was along similar lines, MB, in view of the sensitivity of the situation – hence my rather impolite comment @ 6 re the spelling errors.  Good to see the title and mention in the post now corrected.

              However, it is interesting to see that as well as my deliberate misspelling in @ 6, the same misspelling was used in comment 3.2 and 7.1.1  To give the latter commenter his due, however,in his earlier comment at 4.2 he misspelled it in his para 2 but right (including macron) in the quote in his final paragraph.  

              But now my pedantry is taking over, so will shut up. 

              • Dukeofurl

                Porirua, was originally  Parirua-the tide sweeping up both reaches'.

                What exactly is your point? 

                Te Ihu o Mataoho later became Ihumateo.

              • Muttonbird

                It's a fascinating issue and one which divides people along unusual lines.

                I'm just a dumb Pakeha but I love the land, and I'm well aware of the intimate connection Maori have with it, and their history, as a source of identity. A history and identity which has been ripped from them and handed back in unrecognisable form.

                I understand their bitterness at the thought of being told to move on yet again…

  7. Dukeofurl 7

    Te Kawerau a Maki Treaty settlement  here


    The Te Kawerau ā Maki Deed of Settlement is the final settlement of all historical claims of resulting from acts or omissions by the Crown prior to 21 September 1992 and is made up of a package that includes:

    • an agreed historical account, Crown acknowledgments and apology to Te Kawerau ā Maki
    • cultural redress
    • financial and commercial redress
    • collective redress.

    The benefits of the settlement will be available to all members of Te Kawerau ā Maki wherever they may live.

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