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Ihumātao occupation: Thousands more expected to join protest over weekend

Ihumātao occupation: Thousands more expected to join protest over weekend

By RNZ

The organisers of a stand-off at Ihumātao are expecting 10,000 to 15,000 people to arrive this weekend to show their support in the battle against a proposed housing development in South Auckland.

One of the Save Our Unique Landscape campaign leaders, Pania Newton, said people were arriving from all over the country to oppose a Fletcher Building development on land considered sacred by iwi.

By last night, an estimated 1000 people had gathered at the South Auckland site.

Newton said there was a free concert today, with Ladi6, Troy Kingi, NRG Rising and others performing.

“We just are so grateful for the support that is coming in from the nation.

“We are expecting around 10,000 to 15,000 visitors so we do encourage everybody to come on down and enjoy the event and to come and take a stand on the land with us and with our whānau and our marae to protect it.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed that no building will take place at Ihumātao while the Government and other parties try to broker a solution.

Government Minister Peeni Henare, the MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, said he would be visiting the site today with Minister Willie Jackson.

Despite the Prime Minister’s assurances no houses would be built at Ihumātao until a solution was found between both groups, people still arrived during the night to support those protesting against the development.

Green MP Mārama Davidson was one of those supporting the SOUL group by sitting with the line of protesters in front of police.

About 30 tents were set up in a paddock and people were also sleeping in their cars.

Throughout the night there was singing and speeches of support as many fires around Ihumātao lit up the whenua.

A senior Fletcher Building executive has welcomed the chance for talks while the development of housing at the Ihumātao site in south Auckland stops.

Steve Evans, the company’s chief executive of residential and land development, said the company had had about a dozen meetings with the Save Our Unique Landscape group in recent years.

Last night, after meeting iwi, Fletchers and Auckland Council, Ardern said no houses would be built at the site while they tried to broker a solution.

Evans said people had the right to protest.

He said the hui with iwi and the Government meant no further work would happen at the site while talks were arranged.

Newton said protesters only found out about a meeting between the Government and mana whenua after it had happened.

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