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maandag 4 oktober 2021

#WORLD #WORLDWIDE #UK #AOTEAROA #NEWZEALAND #News #Journal #Update - en) UK, #AFED, organise magazine - #IHUMATAO: RECLAIMING THE LAND

 In Aotearoa (1), one of the major forms of social struggle is the indigenous

Maori (2) struggling to reclaim the land stolen from them by the New Zealand
colonial government as part of the capitalist settler colonisation of Aotearoa
(3). Since 2015, the greatest land struggle in a decade has been happening at
Ihumatao (4) in Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland (5), where Maori and non-Maori from the
Save Our Unique Landscape/SOUL (6) campaign have been occupying the land to stop
the capitalist construction firm Fletchers from beginning a socially and
environmentally harmful housing development (7) and return the land to mana
whenua (8). This land struggle is the most recent event in Ihumatao's long history.

800 years ago, Ihumatao was one of the first places where Maori arrived and
established settlements in Aotearoa, in the area now known as the Otuataua
Stonefields (9). There, they cultivated 8,000 hectares of land to grow kumara,
taro, yams and gourds to feed themselves and later the British settlers/Pakeha
(10) when they began to colonise Tamaki Makaurau to create Auckland following the
signing of Te Tiriti O Waitangi (11) between some Maori hapu/sub-tribes (12) and
the British Empire. However, such co-operation between Maori and Pakeha did not
last, as the drive to accumulate capital inherent to capitalism led to the New
Zealand government using various means to transform communal Maori land into
state and private land, including the Native Land Court, land sales and war, in
Aotearoa's version of the enclosure of the commons (13).

When the Waikato War, part of the broader New Zealand Wars (14), began in 1863
between the New Zealand Government, led by Governor George Grey, their Maori
allies the Kupapa/Queenitanga (15) and the Kingitanga/King movement (16) that
wanted Te Tiriti to be honoured, a British official was sent to Ihumatao and
demanded that the Maori there take an oath of allegiance to the Crown and give up
arms or be expelled to the Waikato (17). The Maori there refused, and in response
the Crown illegally confiscated Ihumatao (18) and in 1869 gave it to the Pakeha
family the Wallace's to be developed into a capitalist farm, while the Maori
there were left landless and destitute.

Over the course of the 20th century, while the Wallace's were running their farm,
in the surrounding land (19) from 1960 to 2000 the Mangere Wastewater Treatment
Plant was built, polluting the air, water and sea bed, volcanoes are quarried for
airport construction and Auckland's road network. In 2009, Auckland Airport's
second runway construction leads to the bulldozing of a 600 year old urupa/grave
site (20) on the Manukau Harbour foreshore, unearthing 89 graves. In 2012,
Auckland Council tried to make the land a public space, but this was challenged
in the Environment Court (21) and they had to rezone the land for future economic
development. In February 2014, the local iwi/tribe Te Kawerau a Maki (22) signed
a treaty settlement (23) with the Government (24) to settle breaches of Te Tirti
by the Government. In July 2014, the Government and Auckland Council designated
32 hectares adjacent to the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve as Special
Housing Area/SHA 62 (25) for a future housing development.

Ihumatao protesters at the climate change march on Auckland's Queen St on 27
September 2019
(Photo RNZ Veronica Schmidt)
When this was announced, Ihumatao local Pania Newton (26) along with several of
her cousins, formed SOUL (27) in 2015 to stop the rezoning. In 2016, the
Wallace's sold the land to capitalist construction firm Fletcher's (28), which
planned to construct 480 homes. In response, in November 2016 SOUL began their
occupation of the land (29) and demanded that Fletcher end their plans and that
SHA 62 be dissolved. A month later, Joe Hawke, leader of the Bastion Point
occupation (30), visited to support the occupation and provide advice. For the
next three years, SOUL would use a diversity of tactics to try and stop
Fletcher's plans, including going to the United Nations (31), taking Fletcher's
to the Environment Court (32) as well as taking petitions to Parliament in
Wellington/Poneke (33) and to Auckland Council (34) with this all being
complemented with an extensive (35) social media (36) campaign (37). However,
none of these measures succeeded, with Fletcher's development going ahead. In
response, Te Kawerau a Maki negotiated with Fletchers (38) to set aside some of
the homes to be for the iwi and then supported the development, claiming that
this was the best deal possible and that SOUL weren't mana whenua.

With no more obstacles facing it, Fletcher's now tried to begin construction at
Ihumatao, with the Police being sent on 23rd July 2019 to Ihumatao to serve
eviction notices and arrest three protestors (39). When this happened, the three
years of SOUL's campaigning now bore fruit, with hundreds arriving to blockade
Ihumatao (40) to prevent construction from beginning, with members from Tamaki
Makaurau Anarchists (41) being amongst them. Due to holding this blockade (42)
the Government, after initially saying that they wouldn't intervene (43) on 24th
July then said on 26th July that construction at Ihumatao would stop (44) while a
solution was being negotiated between Te Kawerau a Maki, Fletchers and Auckland
Council.

Unfortunately SOUL was not invited to negotiations and they continued the
blockade due to this as well as due to the Police and Fletcher's remaining at
Ihumatao, with the katiaki/protectors (45) of Ihumatao being able to push the
blockade line closer to Ihumatao (46) while also facing an increased police
presence by 5th August. On the following day, there was a national day of actions
in solidarity with the reclamation of Ihumatao (47). This helped keep pressure on
Fletcher's and the Government after the Kingitanga offered to hold a hui (48)
between SOUL and Te Kawerau a Maki to come to a common position on Ihumatao that
both sides accepted.

As the negotiations continued, the blockade held, with the majority of the Police
withdrawing from Ihumatao (49) on 16th August, while SOUL organised a hikoi/march
(50) to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Mount Albert office to get her to visit
Ihumatao, which she refused to do. The negotiations ended on 18th September, with
SOUL and Te Kawerau a Maki agreeing that Ihumatao should be returned to mana
whenua (51). Since mid-September 2019, negotiations have continued, although SOUL
have been locked out of them (52). However, there are positive signs that a
resolution may be reached soon, with the Government stating on 16th November that
it's considering loaning Auckland Council money to purchase Ihumatao from
Fletcher's (53) to turn it into a public space, while Pania Newton announced on
23rd December that a resolution would be announced soon (54). This great news led
to Ihumatao having a very Meri Kirhimete/Merry Christmas in 2019 (55).

Ihumatao protesters at the climate change march on Auckland's Queen St on 27
September 2019
(Photo RNZ Veronica Schmidt)
The struggle for Ihumatao in 2020 started well with Fletcher's removing their
fences (56) at Ihumatao. In addition, there was an expectation that a resolution
would be reached (57) before Waitangi Day, with the Kingitangi lowering their
flag from Ihumatao to symbolise, as their work in helping to resolve this
struggle had finished. Unfortunately, Waitangi Day 2020 came and went without a
resolution being announced. However, the Kingitanga said following Waitangi Day
2020 that a resolution was imminent (58), but that some work still needed to be
done to finalise the resolution.

This work continued throughout 2020 until 17th December 2020 (59), when it was
announced that the Government would purchase Ihumatao from Fletcher Building for
$30 million under the Government's Land for Housing programme. This was done as
part of a Memorandum of Understanding/He Pumautanga that was signed by the
Kingitanga, the Government and Auckland Council which set out how they would
decide the land's future. In the Memorandum, it was agreed that the land should
be used for housing, which could take on various forms, including state housing,
mana whenua housing or Papakainga housing (60). The Memorandum also clarified
that the agreement does not amount to a new Treaty settlement to ensure it didn't
re-open the previous Treaty settlement, as all Treaty settlements are considered
full and final. In addition, the Memorandum outlined that a steering committee,
or Ropu Whakahaere, made up of three ahi ka/those with links to the land (61)
representatives who are supported by the Kingitanga, one Kingitanga
representative and two Government representatives, would be formed to co-govern
the land. The steering committee will engage in talks for a period of five years
to make the ultimate decision on the future ownership and use of the land, with
one possible option being returning the land to mana whenua (62). Pania Newton
(62) said at the time that the deal was a good first step and that it would be up
to whanau to decide what to do with the land, although she said it wouldn't
necessarily be used for housing.

Since the deal was reached, as of 17th March 2021 (63), the steering committee
has not yet been formed as the ahi ka representatives and Kingitanga
representatives have not been selected yet. In addition, on 20th April 2021 (64),
the Auditor-General announced that the Government's purchase of Ihumatao was
unlawful and Parliament needed to pass legislation to make it lawful to resolve
this technical error. What both these reports show is that while mana whenua have
won an important battle, the struggle for Ihumatao is not over yet.

Looking back (65), SOUL's campaign to #ProtectIhumatao has been a phenomenal
success, with them being able to transform their initially small reclamation
action into a direct action campaign that has created a mass movement in Tamaki
Makaurau and across Aotearoa to stop Fletcher's housing development backed by an
excellent social media campaign. It's also led to a new approach to Maori
politics, with a new generation seeking to engage in direct action to return
stolen land instead of relying on corporate iwi structures (to the exclusion of
hapu) negotiating with the Government to get treaty settlements that provide
monetary compensation and only return Government land, enriching a new Maori
capitalist class (66).

However, there is still a long road to reaching a final resolution to this
struggle. In addition, the Government ensured that the Memorandum did not set a
precedent to return private land to Maori in future treaty settlements (67). If
that had happened, then all stolen land in Aotearoa could possibly be returned to
Maori, destabilising one of the pillars of settler colonial capitalism in
Aotearoa: private and state land ownership. Despite this, SOUL's campaign to
reclaim Ihumatao has put into practice the anti-colonial cry from the Maori
rangatira/chief Rewi Maniapoto (68) during the Waikato War: 'Ka whawhai tonu
matou, Ake! Ake! Ake! - We will fight on for ever and ever!'

Tamaki Makaurau Anarchists
https://tamakimakaurauanarchists.org.nz/

https://organisemagazine.org.uk/2021/09/28/ihumatao-reclaiming-the-land-international/
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