The Struggle for Ihumātao

It was a privilege to Chair the session with Pania Newton for this awesome kaupapa on Te Tiriti based futures + Anti Racism 2020. I learnt that occupation of land transformed a movement – The SOUL protest caught the attention of a nation and the world. The people came in their masses and stayed. Ihumātao was about reclaiming what was stolen, the injustice for a hapū – whānau that gave so much too Tāmaki Makaurau.

One of the oldest continuously occupied settlements in Aotearoa New Zealand, Ihumātao represents an unfolding travesty of social, economic, and environmental justice, which reminds us that for Indigenous peoples, colonisation is unremitting.

McCreanor, et al., 2019

Our whānau visit to Te Ihu a Mataoho

When visiting Ihumātao I was inspired to write a poem about the colonial impacts on our land – our whenua.

For over a thousand years, Māori have adapted and innovated in response to te tai ao (our environment). The natural environment provided spiritual, theoretical and ethical foundations that…

Gave rise to codes for living that would ensure the well-being for future generations

Durie, 2013, p. 183

Hauora (health and wellbeing) were understood as conditions of moral and spiritual wholeness. Wairua and Tikanga (spiritual) practice aligned every action to the workings of the natural world on which Māori depended.

However, contact and subsequent colonisation brought new diseases, technologies and novel foods, as well as introducing racism, oppressive religion and education and discriminatory governance.

From the 1820s, Māori communities suffered intertribal conflict, military invasion, land alienation, resource destruction and dehumanisation (Durie, 2013).

Mana whenua at Ihumātao , who were expelled by force in 1863, made landless and impoverished, are now further threatened by Fletchers – commercial development of their confiscated land.

Formed in 2015 to stop the development, the mana whenua-led, community-supported campaign Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) is calling on the Government to ensure all affected Māori are properly consulted and to protect the land for future generations.

We owe it to ourselves to support this kaupapa in any way we can. The never ending struggle for our mokopuna.

Ihumatao is an amazing place, space and time. Please visit when you can and support the kaupapa.


Published by Tākuta Teah

Indigenous woman, partner, māmā, sister, daughter, aunty, artist, story catcher/teller, researcher, evaluator and academic. I draw on these identities to express, connect and articulate kotahitanga, mana motuhake and aroha.

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