Information about Ihumātao

If you have been watching TV in New Zealand, you may have seen footage of Maori people protesting about some land and wondered what the problem is.

The land in question is called Ihumātao, located in South Auckland. Traditionally, the land belonged to a group of Maori called Te Kawerau ā Maki. The government unfairly took the land off them in 1863 and gave it to a farming family. This family kept the land for 150 years. Although the government has given similar land back to Maori tribes, they can only do this if the land is publicly owned. In the case of Ihumātao, the land was privately owned, so it could not be returned to Te Kawerau ā Maki by the government.

In 2016 the land was sold to a housing development company, Fletcher Building. They planned to divide the land into many small properties with houses. The people of Te Kawerau ā Maki went to court two times to try to stop the land from being sold to Fletcher Building, but they lost the case both times.

The elders of Te Kawerau ā Maki realised that if the land was subdivided, they would never be able to have it returned to them. They decided to make a deal with Fletcher Building. Fletcher Building agreed to give 25% of the land back to Te Kawerau ā Maki. They agreed to make forty of the 480 the homes they will build affordable for members of Te Kawerau ā Maki.  

Unfortunately, not all of the people in Te Kawerau ā Maki agreed that this was a good deal. Some of them do not want to compromise. They want all of the land returned to their group. This is the reason why they are protesting.

The government does not want to get involved because the dispute is about private land, and it is within Te Kawerau ā Maki. We can only wait to see how this will be resolved.