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Current as of 02/12/16 07:39PM NZST

New archaeological discovery casts doubt on Ihumatao, South Auckland, development

By Donna Miles

The Fletchers' report, part of their consent application for building 480 houses, had concluded there was no archaeological interest on the 32ha of land. Photo / File
The Fletchers' report, part of their consent application for building 480 houses, had concluded there was no archaeological interest on the 32ha of land. Photo / File

A group contesting the rezoning of land at Ihumātao in Mangere, South Auckland, says a new archaeological discovery casts doubt on the accuracy of Fletchers' land report to the council.

Save Our Unique Landscape's (SOUL) spokesperson, Waimarie McFarland said the newly discovered shell midden by archaeologist Dave Veart should make the council revisit the report.

Dave Veart said middens were "very important rubbish" as they acted as "time capsules" providing important information about diets, environments and dates.

The Fletchers' report, part of their consent application for building 480 houses, had concluded there was no archaeological interest on the 32ha of land other than a concrete farmhouse built in 1906.

McFarland said the new discovery reinforced what SOUL had always known and believed about the site.

"This is a sign from our tupuna that we must carry on fighting to protect Ihumātao from development."

Kiwi archaeologist Dave Veart. Photo / Nick Ree
Kiwi archaeologist Dave Veart. Photo / Nick Ree

McFarland said they were concerned none of the expert archaeologists employed by Feltchers were able to identify the midden site on the side of the road.

"How could they miss something like this?

"What other archaeological finds may there be and, is bulldozing the best way to unearth them?" McFarland said.

Fletcher Residential and Land Development Chief Executive Steve Evans said they had worked with representatives of Te Kawerau a Maki and Te Akitai iwis to create robust protection plans.

Evans said they will use ground penetrating radar to confirm the exact location of caves and midden and will not build on any of these areas.

Evans said having a Special Housing Area at Oruarangi Road is the right result for Auckland.

"We believe Auckland can have history and housing."

In a mayoral debate, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said he was happy to negotiate with Fletchers to save the nature of Ihumātao community.

"In the end, it will be the Environment Court and Fletchers that make that decision, but let's put a little bit of pressure on Fletchers."

Ihumātao is near Auckland International Airport and one of the places where the first Polynesians settled in New Zealand over 800 years ago.

There is long history of struggle for the land beginning with a proclamation issued by George Grey in 1863.

Critics say the housing development will destroy important historic and atchaeological features as well as the link between the papakainga and the sacred mountain Te Puketaapapatanga a Hape.

Controversial land development

• Fletchers Ltd purchased 32ha to build 480 houses under the Special Housing Area (SHA) legislation

• Ihumātao land near Auckland International Airport has historical and cultural significance to local iwi.

• Save Our Unique Landscapes (SOUL) are fighting Fletchers' plan to develop the site.

• The final decision on the plan to develop the site will be determined by the Environment Court.

- Newstalk ZB

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