Protesters opposing the plans to build hundreds of homes on heritage land at Ihumātao shut down Fletcher Building's annual meeting in Auckland today.The protesters want their ancestral lands at Ihumātao to be preserved as reserve or farmland, and have already taken their case to present to the United Nations. The land was first taken from Māori in 1863, as punishment for their support of the Kingitanga movement. It ended up in private ownership and was run mostly as a farm, until 2012 when the Environment Court found it could be rezoned to within city limits and be marked for "future development". Despite an attempt by the council to purchase the land, Fletcher Construction bought it.
Protesters from the nearby Makaurau Marae say the project would destroy one of the country's earliest sites of continuous Maori occupation. The site contains at least two lava caves used as ancient burial grounds, although Fletcher says the caves would be put into reserves. In the latest move of the two-year battle, members of the group SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) joined with locals from Makaurau Marae last week to lodge an appeal in the Environment Court.Here are our photos from the demonstration: