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

Fiji Sun - - Asia News - The Guardian

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.

Jacin­der Ar­den.

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