After looking deeply into why Ihumātao has not been recognised as heritage worthy of protection in New Zealand, SOUL has uncovered the extent of the bias toward protecting colonial built heritage over sites of Māori significance - an issue that is seen across the world. Here Pania tells the story of the fight to #protectihumātao and how the Government is failing our nation by neglecting to protect Māori cultural sites.
Here is Pania's TED Talk on this topic, from late 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT11yvE5plo&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0IuYcLddEN_kvQiXVKHiYXEQrIA53IK5pFaARtvNeLBLHGZt5gor1uxfc
To: The House of Representatives and the Auckland Council Governing Body
Toitū te whenua! #ProtectIhumaatao!
The SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) Campaign urgently needs your support! Join us to stop a housing development at Ihumaatao, near Auckland International Airport, on 32 ha of land with huge cultural, conservation, ecological and heritage value to our city and nation.
SOUL is urgently seeking Government and Auckland Council intervention, to either buy the land from Fletcher Building Limited (the current owner) or mandate a process that will enable all affected parties to come up with an outcome everyone can live with.
Thousands of New Zealanders want this land protected for future generations – join us by signing this petition.
Why is this important?
The Ihumaatao landscape (of which the land in question, Special Housing Area 62, is a part) is recorded on the United Nations International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) at risk register. This rare cultural heritage landscape (including SHA 62) matters because its stories, relationships, built heritage, ecological values and archaeological sites are critical to our understanding of the histories and futures of our city and country.
For mana whenua (local Māori), this place embodies sources of identity and wellbeing as well as family, community and tribal relationships.
This area is one of the last remnants of the archaeologically rich stonefields landscapes across Auckland. As part of the adjacent, but legally separate, Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve, the land in question holds the stories of the earliest inhabitants of our country. It is one of the last surviving places where the land and stone walls used by Māori for growing new crops, such as wheat and European vegetables for the Auckland markets prior to 1863, still exists. Here, the ancient and more recent gardens stand next to each other.
This cultural landscape connects with one of New Zealand's’ oldest continuously inhabited papakainga (village) and this connection will be irreparably broken by the proposed development. Houses built up to the existing boundary of the Historic Reserve will threaten its future.
The land was confiscated ‘by proclamation’ under the New Zealand Settlements Act in 1863 as part of the colonial invasion of the Waikato that drove mana whenua from their lands, ahead of the settler armies. Overnight they were made landless and impoverished. Now, that existence is further threatened by the commercial development.
The proposed development site is only a few kilometres from Auckland International Airport and should be considered as a promising cultural, heritage and ecotourism location. For many years there have been aspirations for social enterprise, local employment and sustainability initiatives that enable kaitiakitanga and tino rangatiratanga. These aspirations range from a mana whenua-led research, visitor and education centre, a food forest, a working farm, guided walkways, cultural experiences, and, open green space.
Local and central government used the fast-track, developer-friendly provisions of the Special Housing Areas Act 2013 to designate the land. Mana whenua and community concerns were sidelined. Mana whenua have suffered enough for the good of the developing city and every critical account of history agrees with them.Now is the time for all parties to work together to ensure the wellsprings of culture remain intact, giving opportunity to fulfil generational aspirations.
For more than three years, the SOUL campaign to #ProtectIhumātao has engaged in non-violent, direct action to raise awareness and build public support. Our guided walks and events on the land have attracted thousands of visitors. We have presented concerns to the Auckland Council Governing Body and to Parliament, met with politicians and been to the United Nations three times in two years. In 2017 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination wrote to the NZ Government recommending that it ensure proper consultation with all affected Maori on this issue.
A recent Environment Court decision showed significant flaws in New Zealand’s heritage legislation that did not allow the Court to consider the values of whole cultural heritage landscape when reviewing Heritage NZ’s decision to grant the company the authority to modify or destroy Maori archaeological and other heritage sites on the land. Gaining that authority doesn't make the decision right, it simply puts it within the narrow terms of the existing law and allows the developer to proceed.
SOUL has now exhausted every legal means to stop the development. We need the Government and Auckland Council to step in. We are fast approaching a confrontation on the land, but will keep doing everything we can to prevent that from happening. We need collective action and innovative thinking to resolve this mounting crisis.
We’re now calling on the public to take a stand for this land. Join us in protecting this unique landscape for all New Zealanders and future generations. Please sign this petition now!
How it will be delivered
In person at Parliament, and to the Auckland Council Governing Body.