The Ihumātao land occupation is growing momentum as hundreds more joined the land protest over the weekend and others from Tauranga Moana sent messages of support.

The land in Māngere is owned by Fletcher Building and is earmarked for the development of 480 houses, with the agreement of local iwi, who have asked the protesters to leave.

Pania Newton, the leader of a group called SOUL - Save Our Unique Landscape - says the 34ha of land was unjustly confiscated from mana whenua in 1863.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed that no building will take place at Ihumātao while the Government and other parties try to broker a solution.


Among those championing the occupation is Mount Maunganui-raised singer Stan Walker, who performed at a free concert for the protesters at Ihumātao over the weekend.

On Facebook, Walker wrote: "I stand with my people... The people of Ihumātao... We will respond in peace, grace & love."

Walker also had a message for the Prime Minister.

His post read: "I am writing this with a heavy heart in response to the open letter by these beautiful tamariki of Ihumatao. I support their kaupapa and ask that you please take action as Prime Minister.

"The loss of Maori Whenua directly affects Maori mental health. It is imperative that we all do everything within our power to prevent trauma to yet another generation of Maori.

"Please go speak to the people at Ihumatao and learn ALL sides of the story.

"This is completely out of love, peace & with hopes that true justice, re compensation & reconciliation, will be the result of this. "

Te Wharekura o Mauao principal Heywood Kuka says he supports those involved in the land occupation. Photo / File
Te Wharekura o Mauao principal Heywood Kuka says he supports those involved in the land occupation. Photo / File

Te Wharekura o Mauao principal Heywood Kuka said while he could not attend the occupation in person, he was supporting the protest "spiritually", and had posted messages of support on Facebook.


"I definitely support the reason for the occupation, and my spiritual support is with those who are fighting against this sort of development."

Kuka said he was happy the Prime Minister had intervened but the Government could have also stepped in when similar issues arose in other parts of the country.

"These issues are not new, and I support those who are only exercising their indigenous rights to protect this piece of land which is sacred to iwi," he said.

Tommy Wilson, of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui descent, said: "The protest is understandable given the climate of our cultural footprint of where we have come from, and where it is we want to get to here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

"Who lost what, and at what cost is an ongoing conversation with iwi who have settled, those who have not and also those who are about to.

"The process of Treaty settlement has many layers to it with many factions of whānau, hapū and iwi involved. At times that can be brutal for all parties at the negotiating table."

Wilson said would be interesting to see how a solution could be negotiated at Ihumātao as it could set a precedent.

Ngāi Te Rangi chairman Charlie Tawhiao said it was likely some members of his iwi would have gone up to Ihumātao or sent messages of support, but they would have done so as individuals.

"I know there are varying opinions. But given the dynamics between the hapū and the protesters and the issues involved, I do not think it is appropriate for me to publicly wade in to share my own views over the occupation."

Ngāti Pūkenga chairman Rehua Smallman and Ngāti Ranginui Iwi incorporated chairman Tawharangi Nuku did not want to comment, both saying they did not know enough about the issue.