Well, the government has caved in to protesters at Ihumatao, and now building work will not continue… and it could be years before this issue is resolved.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed that no building will take place at Ihumatao while the government and other parties try to broker a solution.
Exactly why the government has intervened is not clear. Local iwi wanted the development to go ahead. Fletcher Building was all set to proceed. Now, with a few loud protesters, a few mischievous Green MPs and a lot of unrelated people being bussed in, the project has been put on hold… and it will not be resolved for years, if ever.
Speaking at Auckland Airport this evening, the Prime Minister said the government wanted to find a peaceful solution to the Imuhatao stand-off.
She spoke after meeting with local iwi, Fletchers, and the Auckland City Council.
“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.
Oh, yes it could… but ‘young people’ are too important to Jacinda. Besides, she is off on another holiday and did not want to be delayed in getting to her birthday celebrations with her parents. Far too important.
Ms Ardern said Labour MPs Peeni Henare and Willie Jackson will go down to the site and talk to protesters tomorrow.
Mr Henare said he and Jackson will head there “primarily to listen.”
Yeah, whatever… and to fan the flames of discord, no doubt. That is what they did over the Oranga Tamariki child uplifts… even though the safety of the children should have been the primary issue. But it wasn’t… pride got in the way, and so it will here.
Jacinda has now made the mistake that Helen Clark did not make. Helen Clark refused to give in to protesters over the Seabed and Foreshore issue. It may have created the Maori Party, although that did no harm in the long run, but above all, it sent a message that protesting does not get you what you want. Jacinda has just sent the opposite message, and now any Maori with any grievance whatsoever will be out on the streets, or on the land protesting. The possibilities are endless, and they are all bad.
Numbers at Ihumatao have swelled to about a thousand as many join the land protest, ahead of the weekend.
It’s the fourth day of attempts to stop a special housing development from being built on ancestral land near Auckland airport.
Organisers said there will be live music performances at the site of the protest tomorrow.
Sherry Kingi, a kaumatua at the site, urged more people to come over the weekend.
“I know we’re going to carry on and I hope more people, not just Maori but everyone,” Ms Kingi said.
Earlier today, police moved back in one of the main paddocks to allow more space for people with tents.
Woodstock was 50 years ago, almost to the day. I wonder if Jimi Hendrix or Joan Baez can make it to Ihumatao this weekend? Arlo Guthrie? Crosby, Stills & Nash? Sounds like fun.
Protest leader Pania Newton has called for her uncle Te Warena Taua, kaumatua for the local iwi who opposes the action, to speak to her.
She said she also had yet to receive word from the Auckland Council about when a promised hui between all interested parties was expected to take place.
She told media her message to the Green Party was firstly one of thanks.
“And gratitude for their support over the many many years that our campaign has been running and secondly is to encourage them to appeal to Jacinda Ardern who has the power to reverse the decision of the special housing area.”
So, if you are wondering why we can’t build enough houses, or why housing is so ridiculously expensive, look no further than this project. Fletcher Building will cut their losses and walk away from this, as they should because it will be in a deadlock for years. In the meantime, when you next read about how it is Maori who are most affected by housing affordability, just remember something. To some extent at least, they bring it on themselves