Te Ihu o Mataoho, or Ihumātao is located on the eastern fringes of the Manukau Harbour overlooking many prominent landmarks of Tāmaki Makaurau.
Standing on its highest point offers views like no other. To the east is the Manukau heads where the Tainui waka left for the west coast, and close to the place Pōtatatu Te Wherowhero signed the Declaration of Independence in 1839.
Moving clockwise is Te Waonui a Tiriwā (Waitākere Ranges), Maungawhau (Mt Eden), Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), and just beyond the horizon is Ngā Tuaitara o Taikehu – named in reference to the peaks on Rangitoto Island. Further inland, is Ōtāhuhu, one of the oldest place names in Auckland and a name which was also known in Hawaiki.
Steeped in history
To the people of Te Kawerau ā Maki, and other iwi and hapū who have whakapapa here, Ihumātao is the centre of the universe.
Ihumātao is rich in history, both Māori and settler. It is a beautiful place that is full of stories.
Generations of Te Kawerau ā Maki have lived on or near Ihumātao for over 800 years. Despite at times being forced off the land, we maintained our place as ahi kaa – the people that have kept the home fires burning and watched over this unique land.
At every opportunity we have exercised our kaitiakitanga and fought the Crown and injustices at Ihumātao.
In 1863, the whenua was confiscated by the Crown and sold. For the past 150 years, it has been privately-owned land, and mana whenua have had to watch from afar as it was farmed and cared for by others.
From 2011 – 2013, we opposed plans to rezone the land from rural to future urban. Te Kawerau ā Maki joined others in taking the matter to the Environment Court, but that case was unsuccessful.
In December 2016, Fletcher Building purchased the land from its owners, the Wallace family, who had farmed the land.
Fletcher Building initially offered to on-sell the land, but no buyer came forward.
In September 2017, Heritage NZ approved Fletcher Building’s application to develop a 480-home community at the Ōruarangi Road site.
Possible Treaty Settlement?
No. This is not a Treaty issue, and it never has been.
Ihumātao was not available to Te Kawerau ā Maki, or, any iwi through a Treaty Settlement, as the Crown does not include privately-owned land in settlement negotiations.
When the land was put up for sale, our Iwi couldn’t have raised the money to buy it back. Now, mana whenua, has negotiated for land to be returned, for free.
Fletcher Building does not have to return the land but it is. For the first time in 150-years, mana whenua will have the land back. This is the first agreement of its sort between an iwi and a corporate and is a major win for iwi.
We will be on our land again, and we will sit at the table watching any development and protecting Ihumātao forever.
We are the guardians
Ko mātou nga kaitiaki. We are the guardians. Mana whenua will protect Ihumātao, as we have as kaitiaki for centuries.
We refer to this unique land as Te Ihu o Mataoho, to reflect the stories of old.
Mataoho was a nemesis to Mahuika (Deity of fire) and known to be the guardian of the volcanoes occupying Tāmaki. This is but one of many stories about our whenua and history.
We all have a responsibility to continue to watch over this whenua, and we will.
We have guaranteed that no development will happen on the 100-hectare Ōtuataua Stonefields, an area that is a part of our whakapapa.
We are protecting Ihumātao.
We are the mandated voice
During consultation, Fletcher Building wrote to the 13 iwi who are a part of Auckland Council’s mana whenua forum.
Te Kawerau ā Maki and Te Ākitai Waiohua expressed our mana at Ihumātao.
Our mandate, as Te Kawerau ā Maki, to work with Fletcher Building and to represent our people, comes from the responsibility put in our leaders to negotiate a settlement in 2008. We have continued to represent our iwi interests at a local and national government level.
Te Kawerau ā Maki has customary interests that extend from the Tāmaki isthmus, northwards through Hikurangi (West Auckland) and lands around the upper Waitemata Harbour and North Shore, and into the south Kaipara and Mahurangi.
Te Kawerau ā Maki acknowledges that other hapū and iwi also have whakapapa, or, interests to the whenua.
Since 2017, several protest groups have voiced their opposition to the Ōruarangi development, and the involvement of Te Kawerau ā Maki.
Groups such as SOUL, who are made up of the unions, Green political party supporters, academics, and whanau who have links to the local community, have criticised our approach.
The reality is, the protest groups have exhausted all legal avenues. The development has been exhaustively tested in a number of arenas, including the original Special Housing Authority (SHA) application hearing, through a Heritage NZ application, the Maori Land Court, by a United Nations committee in Geneva, and the Environment Court.
SOUL has also asked the Government and Council to buy the land on their behalf, again without success.
Many of the goals identified by the protestors will be achieved in the Ōruarangi development including the protection of Pukeiti beyond the edge of the existing Reserve.
The Ōruarangi development will go ahead and this is a welcome opportunity for our people.
The development will provide iwi access to housing at Ihumātao, that has not been available for two generations. We will also play an active role in preserving our environment and strengthening our unique culture for generations to come.
We will have land returned to us. Ironically, SOUL want to take that all away, and gift the whenua to all New Zealanders as a park. They do not support iwi development, or our aspirations for the future. No houses for iwi members, no land returned. Are they really any better than the people who stole the land in the first place?
Click here to read more about how we are protecting Ihumātao for generations to come.
Disclaimer: This website has been developed by Te Kawerau ā Maki and includes korero from Auckland iwi advocate Pita Turei. Pita has researched Ihumātao extensively, and is an activist, historian, and story-teller. The authors acknowledge many iwi and hapū have whakapapa to this whenua – this website is only one of their stories.