Yesterday morning Labour Maori caucus co-chair Willie Jackson said government would find itself in serious trouble if it started disregarding iwi mandates when it came to Māori land:
Mr Jackson said he sympathised with those on the frontline, but the government had to respect the settlement. . .
Mr Jackson said he understood that some felt ripped off, but warned that siding with anyone other than those with the mandate was a dangerous path.
“The day we walk away from mana whenua is the day we might find ourselves in real trouble. Right now we’re committed to supporting to what they’ve signed up for – as hard as that might be,” he said. . .
Mr Jackson said there were people on the frontline who felt a strong sense of injustice but when those who have rights over land make a decision – like the deal done with Fletcher – the government had to support that.
“We understand the hurt but sometimes people, particularly our mana whenua, have got the right to make these decisions and we’re not going to say you’re wrong and get out of there. I know others are doing that but we wouldn’t be so bold or so arrogant,” he said. . .
Just a few hours later the Prime Minister was, by that definition being bold and arrogant:
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. . .
“We have heard, here, the strong voice of young people,” Ms Ardern said.
“At the same time we hear the perspective of mana whenua.
She said the government had to address that there had been an escalation and that’s why the call was made to hold off on building work.
“That activity cannot take place while there is such a large gathering there. . .
Not only is this putting the angst of protesters ahead of what mana whenua have agreed with Fletchers, it’s a u-turn on her previous position:
Earlier this week, Ms Ardern said the government would not intervene in the issue.
“Ultimately we are falling on the side of the local iwi [who support the housing development] and their position. They are not the ones leading the protest here and so if we come in over the top, it really would be undermining the local iwi in this case,” she said on Wednesday.
By last night the show of force by protesters appears to have persuaded her to not only undermine the local iwi, but to trample all over Fletcher’s property rights.
It is also poking its nose into what is essentially a family dispute.
This was a point made by former Labour MP and former Minister of Māori Affairs
Samuel Dovers Dover Samuels who called Magic Afternoons with Sean Plunket with a stark message to politicians and media regarding Ihumātao: Stay out.
He told Sean that this is an internal matter for the family to figure out for themselves. Interference form the media and politicians has fanned the flames of this dispute, he says, “I just can’t see the involvement of any politician as being helpful.”
(Click the link above if you want to listen to the full interview).
RNZ explains the history and why Ihumātao is being occupied by protestors.
It is complex but:
. . .Earlier this year, Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority & Settlement Trust, who support the housing development, put out a statement saying:
“This piece of land within the development area will be the first time since the land confiscations of 1863 that land will be returned to mana whenua. The agreement to have this land returned to mana whenua was negotiated between Fletchers, Makaurau Marae Māori Trust and Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority. Auckland City Council was consulted during this process.”
Fletcher’s have committed to returning 25 percent (eight hectares) of the land they own to the Kiingitanga.
“Returning the land is a first for a corporate like Fletcher Building,” said Fletcher Building Residential chief executive Steve Evans.
This isn’t a Māori versus Fletcher issue – on both sides are members of the same iwi, hapū and whānau. . .
If the issue is complex, the underlying principle is not. Everyone, not least the government, should be respecting property rights.
This point was made by Act leader David Seymour:
. . Jacinda Ardern has legitimised unlawful behaviour by capitulating to an illegal occupation as her opening move.”
“The PM has cultivated a brand of a kinder, more inclusive politics, but some things such as occupying private property are always wrong. She has just sent the message: ‘if you occupy private property, the Government will take your side instead of protecting property rights.'”
“It appears that the Prime Minister has prevented the legal owners of land from carrying out a consented development, and offered the protesters a seat at the table. . .
Maori property rights were ignored when the land was originally taken. Redress for that was made under a Treaty settlement.
Fletcher Building has gone beyond what is legally required in returning 25 percent of its land to the iwi. It will be building nearly 400 much-needed houses on the rest, some of which will be sold to members of the iwi.
That some think this is not good enough is no justification for the government to interfere and, in doing so, undermine Fletcher’s property rights.
Private property has, for very good reasons, been exempt from Treaty of Waitangi settlements.
Government giving way to protestors like this sets a very, very dangerous precedent that is in danger of precipitating a property rights crisis.