The United Nations race relations committee says Maori were not adequately consulted about the development of the Ihumatao special housing area near Auckland Airport.

Fletcher Residential got consent to build 480 homes on the site near the sacred Otuataua Stonefields Reserve but now a UN decision has criticised the process.

Pania Newton, spokesperson and co-founder of Save Our Unique Landscape, said the UN decision was issued on Monday and she was pleased with the outcome.

"The UN recommended the Government re-evaluate the special housing area at Ihumatao because they recognise that Maori were not adequately consulted during its designation and that Maori did not give their free prior and informed consent," Newton said this morning.

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Cathy Casey, an Auckland councillor, has also congratulated lobby group Save Our Unique Landscape "who took the case against the Special Housing Area at Ihumatao to the United Nations.

"The UN recommends that the designation be reviewed by the Government to 'evaluate its conformity with the Treaty of Waitangi, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant international standards' and that 'the free and informed consent of Maori is obtained before approving any project affecting the use and development of their traditional land and resources.' Now for the Government to follow through," Casey said.

Newton said today the UN committee said iwi and hapu must provide free and informed consent to any developments on their traditional land.

"We will lobby the Government to fulfil their duty to re-evaluate special housing area 62," she said this morning.

Fletcher Residential has consent to build 480 homes near the Otuataua Stonefields Reserve. But early last year, about 300 people held hands in Mangere in a bid to stop the project on what an archaeologist described as "the paddock next to Stonehenge".

Fletcher Building got SHA status for its 480 places on the 32ha site next to the Otuataua Stonefields Reserve.

A Fletcher Building statement today said the company could not comment on the UN's communication to the Government on the legislation, "but we can outline what we have done to consult with local iwi and ensure we take appropriate steps to protect areas of cultural significance."

Steve Evans, Fletcher Residential & Land Development chief executive, said: "From its original interest and involvement in the property, the company has worked closely and productively with those who have formal mana whenua over the land. In particular, both the Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority and the Makaurau Marae Maori Trust and Te Akitai supported the qualifying development application and stated they represent the people who hold Mana Whenua of Ihumātao and who reside at Puketapapa Papakainga Ihumātao village," Evans said.

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"As a result and in recognition of the important cultural and historical significance of the adjacent stonefields area, we are gifting over one quarter of the existing private land - this will protect the burial caves, the lower slopes of the nearby volcanic cone pā, a Pohutukawa, and some of the stone walls. In addition, we're putting in place a discovery protocol in case there are still undiscovered items of historical significance in the land that has been heavily ploughed during the past 150 years, a reserve management plan, and archaeological investigations and recording information relating to the history of the area and providing public amenities in the reserve," Evans said.

"We would highlight that the historic stonefields are already in public ownership and protected forever, and we are gifting a significant buffer of land around the stonefields to further protect forever privately owned areas in the face of significant development occurring around the site by other developers, including factories and the nearby airport.
The new housing precinct will ensure there are at least 48 affordable homes which could allow tangata whenua to live closer to their village, which has limited housing.

"In addition, there will be a mix of stand-alone homes and terrace housing, limited in density.

"Building the new neighbourhood will bring new jobs to south Auckland and will mean those living there will be close to jobs such as the airport, and the significant industrial buildings including the new 55,000 square metre Sistema Factory recently built across the road from the stonefields," Evans said.

"In addition, our executives, chief executive and chairman have met with those who have objected to our plans, in an effort to find compromise. We remain open to further discussions as the need arises," he said.

Former Conservation Department regional heritage manager Dave Veart told protesters last March that the land was of international significance.

"About 100,000 years ago our deep, distant ancestors set off [from Africa] to colonise the world. They moved out and the last place on the planet they reached was Aotearoa, and one of the first places in Aotearoa that they reached was here."

The foundations of houses and gardens using the area's natural volcanic scoria dated back 700 years, to the earliest stage of Maori settlement, showing "incredibly intensive" agricultural land use over hundreds of years.

The 100ha closest to the Manukau Harbour was bought by the old Manukau City Council in 1999 and has been protected as a heritage reserve since 2000, but Veart said the plan always was to buy the adjoining land eventually.