A deal is said to be close to being signed on Auckland's long-disputed Ihumātao with the Government reported to be about to pay more than $30 million to buy the property from owner Fletcher Living.

1 News has just reported the Government is "closing" on a deal to resolve the dispute over the land occupied for years by Save Our Unique Landscape (Soul) after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern "became personally involved".

But an NZME enquiry to Finance Minister Grant Robertson's office said nothing had yet been decided.

A spokesman for Fletcher Building said tonight he knew of no deal and had no statement to issue on the matter.


A Crown limousine with CR plates used for transporting senior Government ministers was filmed leaving the site today.

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Shane Jones of NZ First has said previously the Government should not buy the land.

1 News said a rōpū whakahaere would be established in the form of a trust or board, comprising Government, Auckland Council and mana whenua representatives. That entity would decide what should happen to the land and whether it is developed or not, it was reported.

Land would be purchased under the Housing Act to avoid clashing with Treaty of Waitangi settlement process.

Pania Newton of Soul said tonight of the reported brokered deal: "It hasn't been easy. It would have to be one of the best things I could experience in my lifetime.

"The mechanism that would be used to acquire the whenua may not be a mechanism that other people would agree with but our whānau and our marae are satisfied with where the conversations have gone and it's definitely not our intention to build housing on this whenua."

The land was confiscated from tangata whenua in the 1860s, then held in private ownership till a division of NZX-listed Fletcher Building bought it in 2014, winning consent to build hundreds of houses there.


In January, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said no deal was close on the land.

"The reality is that this has been a long-range discussion that will take a long, long time to be completed if it ever is," he said then.

Kīngi Tūheitia and the haukāinga (local people) of Ihumātao gathered at the South Auckland site then to lower the king's flag after months of discussions between mana whenua, Fletcher, the Government and council on the disputed 480-home development.

Newton said in January a deal was close. She made the same claim again tonight, five months later.

Steve Evans of Fletcher Living had no comment to make on any deal tonight.