Ihumātao has been in the news lately.
Thanks Weka for your post. It is a really important issue and letting people understand the background is vital.
The issue strikes various nerves with me. I grew up in Mangere and Ihumātao is an area that I used to go to quite often. It was on the edge of the city, always on the other edge of the city. It had a timeless feel about it.
Te Kawerau ā Maki have Mana Whenua status for much of the local board area. I have had a relationship with the tribe for a long while. Te Warena Taua and I used to discuss the goal of meaningful protection for the Waitakere Ranges and TKAM threw its weight behind the Heritage Area Act. In his view the great forest of Tiriwa deserved nothing less.
TKAM takes its status seriously. Frustrated at Council not getting to grips quickly with Kauri dieback in the Waitakere Ranges Te Warena declared a Rahui, such was his dissatisfaction with the delay. Council’s enhanced response to Kauri dieback can be directly linked back to Te Warena’s stand.
TKAM has been at the forefront of efforts to protect the Ihumātao area. In 2012 the tribe opposed private efforts to move the metropolitan urban limit and allow development of the area. It claimed that the whole area was waahi tapu.
It opposed the approval of a special housing area by Council and the Government in 2013. It protested against the lack of consultation but to no avail.
The tribe then negotiated with Fletchers about the development of the land and obtained significant concessions. The major concessions that were negotiated include:
These comments are taken from submissions made by Te Warena Taua to Auckland Council on August 27, 2015 in response to a SOUL presented petition urging Council to stop the development. At that meeting Cathy Casey moved a resolution that Council revokes its recommendation that the area be established as a special housing area. The resolution was lost five to twelve.
I can understand TKAM’s desire to get on with things. It has completed its treaty settlement. The tribe’s elders want to get on and complete the projects that they have set themselves to. It is a small tribe and its human and financial resources are limited.
And they have performed remarkably well. Having fought the Government the Council and Fletchers for the past eight years they have come up with a compromise that they can live with.
But a longer term view causes a completely different perspective to be reached. The land was confiscated by the Crown in 1863 under the pretext that Waikato Tainui were in rebellion but as conceded by the Crown in the treaty settlement this was not the case. The Crown has settled claims on two occasions and former Labour Prime Minister Peter Fraser said after the first one that he had no doubts about the “inherent justice of the claims of the Maori people”.
But this claim has been settled. And part of the settlement involved the transfer of a 3 hectare block of land in the general Ihumatao area to Waikato Tainui.
There are very strong urban design considerations against development of the land. It will increase urban sprawl and, unless the light rail can be diverted, will not be served by public transport.
And the land is very fertile. The last thing that Auckland should be doing is building on its best arable land.
So there is a whole mix of problems here. Government advisors will no doubt be talking about setting precedents and the potential problem of addressing claims involving land that has been in private ownership for over 150 years. But this issue is not going to go away quickly.
One final comment. This current government should not be criticised. Development of this land is a direct result of lax RMA standards and Nick Smith’s disastrous mixed housing regime which is directly responsible for this messy situation.