Members of Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot lent their support to hundreds protesting against an Auckland housing development being constructed on Māori land.

At Parliament, Greens co-Leader Marama Davidson, who accepted an 18,000 strong petition asking the Government to stop the development going ahead, told those gathered she had written to the Prime Minister, asking for the issue to be resolved in "a way that is just".

But her personal opinion was that the Fletchers development at Ihumātao in South Auckland should not go ahead.

Protest groups say the 33.8ha area was unjustly confiscated from mana whenua in 1863.


Fletcher Residential got consent to build 480 homes on the site near the sacred Otuataua Stonefields Reserve.

It has since been the subject of much controversy which culminated today in the protest at the steps of Parliament.

One of Pussy Riot's members, Maria Alyokhina, told those gathered that Ihumātao was Māori land and the Government should support its return.

"I think the Government should pay for this land, from Fletchers and give it back to the Māori people."

She said New Zealand had the opportunity to be an example to the world when it came to the displacement of indigenous people.

As well as members of the Russian band and Davidson, a number of other MPs – including Labour's Louisa Wall, Meka Whaitiri, Willie Jackson and Chlöe Swarbrick – were also at the protest.

In a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Kowhai Olsen – who was speaking on behalf of Makaurau Marae – implored Ardern to disestablish the Special Housing area at Ihumātao.

"We understand that our stance to restate our opposition to the special housing development may forego the mitigation benefits and housing offered to our people.

"However, the significant impact and effects to our culture, heritage and papakainga amid the Ihumātao open space, far outweighs the necessity of Special Housing Area 62."

The letter was signed by Edwina Pirhi, Karen Matata-Wong and Christopher Whaanga – three of the four mandated trustees for the Makaurau Marae Maori Trust.

This was significant, according to Labour's Māngere MP Aupito William Sio.

He said he had asked Fletchers to consider giving some of the Ihumātao land back to mana whenua.

He said Fletchers would consider it, if the mana whenua, who is their partner in this development, would agree.

"Today I'm hearing for the first time, that three of the four trustees of mana whenua agree. I think we need to give time for that discussion to be had."

But Davidson said she had begun a process of asking the Government to "take responsibility and prevent this development from happening".

The Greens provide confidence and supply to the two Governing parties, NZ First and Labour.

"I have met with the Prime Minister and Government ministers all along this way to ask that we resolve this issue in a way that is just."

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the way forward was for all of the parties involved in the issue to "get around the table and talk together to try and find a resolution".

He said it was a "genuinely complicated issue".