Ihumātao is not a housing issue, it’s a land issue
At the SHIFT Aotearoa conference in early June, Pania Newton talked about the struggle to protect the land at Ihumātao - a cause she sees as her life's purpose. Pania and her cousins created the SOUL Campaign to resist Fletcher's development at Ihumātao. With family members and other supporters, Pania has occupied the land to protect it. Pania says she can not understand why Ihumātao has not been recognised as heritage worthy of protection in New Zealand. She says there is a bias toward protecting colonial built heritage over sites of indigenous significance. Photo: Louise Thomas.
Building Better researchers and Māori housing expert Rau Hoskins and kaupapa Māori researcher Prof Jenny Lee-Morgan assert that the Ihumātao dispute is not a housing issue but a land issue, and therefore a government issue.
While the need for more houses in Auckland and nationwide is widely accepted, Māori housing researchers do not support the building of houses on the whenua adjoining the Ōtuataua site at Ihumātao.
“This is about the protection of whenua and kāinga,” says Jenny Lee-Morgan, “and kāinga is not just a house, it is a home and village.”
Jenny’s whānau is also from Ihumātao and deeply understands the connection to the whenua as identity, as well as the importance of whakapapa and whanaungatanga amongst the whānau, hapū, marae and iwi of Ihumātao that make the place a kāinga. The protection and return of the kāinga, begins with the return of the land.
Rau Hoskins, Chairperson of Te Matapihi and Māori Housing advocate says, “Iwi often feel forced to cut deals with developers in order to secure some wins for their people, however, in this situation, it's become untenable to build on whenua that is so fiercely contested, because you will never get the conditions necessary for a true kāinga.”
Instead Rau believes that the Government and Auckland Council should take advantage of a willing buyer, willing seller arrangement with Fletchers to reserve the whenua and apply additional energy and resources to supporting other Māori driven housing projects at Ihumātao and throughout Tāmaki.
He says “that way all parties can come away with their mana intact - including the Government and Council".
Rau Hoskins and Jenny Lee-Morgan have been leading a research project about housing for our most vulnerable Māori whānau, and one of the clear findings is that building a house is only one part of the solution, sustainable living in a home within a kāinga is a whole other matter.
Contact: Rau Hoskins, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date posted: 29 July 2019