A senior member of Te Kawerau a Maki, David Rankin, plans to lay a complaint with the Police this week over Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s interference in the current land dispute at Ihumatao.
The complaint will allege that the Prime Minister used her position to interfere in a legal transaction and as a consequence, will deprive the iwi of dozens of homes which Fletchers has contracted to provide to the mana whenua of Ihumatao.
“I don’t take this action lightly,” says Mr Rankin, “but the Prime Minister has directly interfered in a legally valid arrangement, and at great cost to the iwi. First, she destroyed kiwi-build, and now she is destroying iwi-build. Fletchers have agreed to provide 40 houses to our people, which is exactly 40 more houses than the Labour Government has managed to provide to us.”
Gerry Brownlee quipped at the National Party conference that Kiwibuild was aptly named because it can’t fly.
Now Ardern has grounded iwi-build.
Mr Rankin admits that the complaint to Police will make him unpopular, but he says that there is a bigger issue at stake. “Ms Ardern has breached the kawa of our hapu, and her actions will leave some of our old people without houses. This is intolerable, and also breaches the law.”
Whether or not it’s a matter for police, it threatens the whole Treaty process, as Whanau Ora Minister Peeni Henare pointed out:
. . .But I want to be very clear and put a word of caution here. If the government steps in to buy this land back, we undermine every treaty settlement that’s been done to date. We then allow re-litigation of settlements that have been done in the past, and are we prepared for that? . . .
For many of the protesters the issue is bigger than Ihumatao.
The PM’s interference has made it even bigger.
She has given way to protesters in what is a fraught family disagreement.
In doing so she has trampled over Fletcher Building’s property rights and an agreement between he company and Mana Whenua, and is delaying the building of much-needed houses.
She has also sent a message to businesses that they can’t rely on the government to back them, even though the law is on their side.