'Our ancestors' wildest dreams': Why you should take your whanau to Ihumātao

On Saturday, my husband, two sons and I headed to Ihumātao, to stand with those occupying the land near Auckland Airport.

The atmosphere was friendly and almost festival-like. The sun was shining, and most people were smiling, including the police. People carried water, food, blankets, and wood to the occupiers.

Looking around, we were immediately struck by the natural beauty of Ihumātao. Rolling hills and ancient rock walls give way to small maunga and a sparkling view of the Manukau harbor. Million-dollar views indeed. 

This is sacred land, and the thought of 480 houses being squeezed onto this breathtaking site was distressing enough in itself to justify the trip. But this was not the reason for our visit.

This land was confiscated from its Māori guardians by the Crown in 1863, and in 1869 it was sold to the Wallace family, who then sold it to Fletcher Residential in 2016. 

Recently, there has been an offer by Fletchers to hand back 8 hectares of land to Māori and to offer 40 homes at a discounted rate for Māori buyers. This deal was negotiated with some local kaumātua, but for years there has been concern.

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