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The Mounting Crisis at Ihumaatao: A High Cost Special Housing Area or a Cultural Heritage Landscape for Future Generations?

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Counterfutures, 6, 139-148

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This article analyses the complex and contentious issue of the Ihumaatao land near Auckland International Airport, threat due to a housing development project by Fletcher Building Limited.

Utilising the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 (HASHA Act), Fletcher plans to construct 480 dwellings, sidelining mana whenua and community interests and diminishing protections for cultural and natural heritage. The authors trace over 150 years of decisions that have alienated mana whenua from this land, highlighting Ihumaatao’s significance as one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s oldest continuously occupied settlements and its rich cultural heritage. The piece critiques the latest Environment Court decision that allows the development to proceed, arguing that it represents a continuation of colonisation and a travesty of social, economic, and environmental justice for Indigenous peoples. The narrative underscores the enduring connection of mana whenua to Ihumaatao, despite historical injustices including land confiscation and environmental degradation. Furthermore, the article critically examines the role of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and the HASHA Act in prioritising private property rights and developer interests over the protection of cultural heritage. Through this analysis, McCreanor, Hancock, and Short call attention to the broader implications of the development for democracy, cultural heritage protection, and indigenous rights in New Zealand, advocating for a reconsideration of the project to preserve Ihumaatao for future generations.

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