Jacinda Ardern Accused By Māori Of ‘Lacking Leadership’ In Land Dispute
Row over plans to build 500 homes on sacred land in Auckland escalates with seven protesters arrested
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is being accused of a “lack of leadership” over an escalating land dispute between Maori and a construction company which plans to build 500 homes on sacred land in south Auckland.
Opposition to the project boiled over this past week over when a group that had been illegally occupying the land was served an eviction notice.
The protest group has grown into about 300 people with police also increasing their presence. Seven protesters were arrested on Thursday night after they linked arms and chained themselves to a van to block part of the motorway near the city’s airport.
The site, called Ihum tao, is home to New Zealand’s earliest market gardens as well as being a significant archaeological site on land considered sacred by local Maori.
Fletcher Building is looking to
develop around 500 homes on the land, which local Maori say was stolen from them after land wars with the British dating back to the 1860s. The protest group want the land given back to local Maori. Protesters have implored Ardern to step in, including sending a letter directly to her. However, she has so far said the government will not get involved. “This is something obviously everyone wants to see resolution around, no one wants to see the kinds of disruption and outpouring of emotion [we have seen],” Ardern said.
“Everyone wants a resolution but ultimately it will have to come from mana whenua (Maori).” Protest leader Pania Newton told media that Ardern’s words showed “a lack of leadership” and showed “ignorance” about its treaty obligations.
“This is the revolution of our generation,” Newton said.