Thousands converged on the disputed lands of Ihumātao on Saturday to support a kaupapa that has proven a lightning rod for a national discussion on Māori land rights.

Many called it this generation's Bastion Point, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did her best Friday evening to quash that, announcing a halt to the Fletcher development while all interested parties worked together on a solution.

Michael Neilson was there.

9am

On day five of the protest there was optimism in the air following the Government's announcement.

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Pearl Pene (back left) was at Ihumātao with her daughter, who brought a few of her Kelston Intermediate friends, to
Pearl Pene (back left) was at Ihumātao with her daughter, who brought a few of her Kelston Intermediate friends, to "support the kaupapa". Photo / Michael Neilson

Pearl Pene came with her daughter, who brought a few of her Kelston Intermediate friends.

"We are here to awhi (support) the kaupapa. It is great to see everyone coming out."

10am

Mana movement leader Hone Harawira arrives with Brian and Hannah Tamaki and about 100 Destiny Church supporters.

Hannah Tamaki said she was there "supporting the people on the ground".

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki and wife Hannah, who leads the Coalition New Zealand party, arrive at Ihumātao on Saturday morning. Photo / Dean Purcell
Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki and wife Hannah, who leads the Coalition New Zealand party, arrive at Ihumātao on Saturday morning. Photo / Dean Purcell

Harawira said the Government's Māori ministers should step up to settle the dispute, and not be told what to do by Ardern.

11.30am

Government Minister Peeni Henare, MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, and Minister Willie Jackson arrive to a roaring pōwhiri.

Government Ministers Peeni Henare and Willie Jackson visited Ihumātao on Saturday, saying they would help facilitate a resolution to the land dispute. Photo / Michael Neilson
Government Ministers Peeni Henare and Willie Jackson visited Ihumātao on Saturday, saying they would help facilitate a resolution to the land dispute. Photo / Michael Neilson

There was a tense feeling as Makaurau Marae representative Erueti Rakena delivered his whaikōrero to the manuhiri.

Speaking directly to Henare, he asked: "If this was your land, your mokopuna, how would you tell them you supported the loss of your land?"

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Makaurau Marae representative Erueti Rakena asked the Government Ministers what they would tell their mokopuna if they had to give up their land. Photo / Michael Neilson
Makaurau Marae representative Erueti Rakena asked the Government Ministers what they would tell their mokopuna if they had to give up their land. Photo / Michael Neilson

Jackson spoke of the issues around determining mana whenua.

"We heard your wero, that is why we are here, why we have put a pause on the development."

He said their role would be to facilitate talks with all mana whenua "at the table".

Government Minister and Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare delivers a whaikōrero at Ihumātao. Photo / Michael Neilson
Government Minister and Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare delivers a whaikōrero at Ihumātao. Photo / Michael Neilson

The divisions saddened him but were the reality of the "Māori experience".

12.30pm

The cooks continue their work, transforming koha into bountiful feasts. Bands start to play and the crowds keep rolling in.

The numbers swelled on Saturday as more people descended on the land protest at Ihumātao. Photo / Dean Purcell
The numbers swelled on Saturday as more people descended on the land protest at Ihumātao. Photo / Dean Purcell

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said the Government finally coming around showed the "power of the people".

"It is testament to the protectors, the kaitiaki."

She did not want to pre empt how the talks would play out.

2.30pm

Save Our Unique Landscape leader Pania Newton, speaking on behalf of Makaurau Marae, said Ardern's announcement was "heartening" but that she needed to visit Ihumātao.

Crowds filled in throughout Saturday at Ihumātao. Photo / Dean Purcell
Crowds filled in throughout Saturday at Ihumātao. Photo / Dean Purcell

"People say this is the biggest revolution of our generation and biggest Māori issue of our time. She should be here.

"We will remain here and continue to fight and spread the word globally until an agreement over engagement is reached."

Save Our Unique Landscape leader Pania Newton said they were disappointed not to be involved in yesterday's hui, but were committed to working towards a solution. Photo / Michael Neilson
Save Our Unique Landscape leader Pania Newton said they were disappointed not to be involved in yesterday's hui, but were committed to working towards a solution. Photo / Michael Neilson

5pm

The major talks for the day have ended, and the attention shifted to the stage with Stan Walker, Ladi6, Troy Kingi, NRG Rising and others performing.

What is the future of this whenua? It is clear from all in attendance, this protest is not just about Ihumātao.

Howie Harris of Parihaka arrived here at Ihumātao last night, and was sharing the history of non-violent indigenous resistance. Photo / Dean Purcell
Howie Harris of Parihaka arrived here at Ihumātao last night, and was sharing the history of non-violent indigenous resistance. Photo / Dean Purcell

"When there is injustice regarding the land, we come together, no matter who or where it is," one man from Ngāpuhi told me.

Tā Pita Sharples arrives at Ihumātao on Saturday. Photo / Michael Neilson
Tā Pita Sharples arrives at Ihumātao on Saturday. Photo / Michael Neilson

The struggle at Ihumātao

1863-1869 – The lands at Ihumātao, near Auckland Airport, were confiscated in 1863 during the invasion of the Waikato, according to SOUL, acquired by the Crown in 1867 and sold to the Wallace family in 1869. Several different iwi and hapū occupied the land, but as it was private land it was excluded from Treaty settlements in the area. It is believed to be one of the first places Māori settled in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

2012 – Auckland Council attempts to make the land a public space, but is challenged in the Environment Court and directed to rezone the land for business or residential purposes.

2014 – In July the Government and Auckland Council designate 32ha next to the Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve Special Housing Area 62 (SHA62), allowing for fast-track development.

2015 – Pania Newton, one of the founders of Save Our Unique Landscape, along with cousins and locals from Makaurau Marae oppose the zoning.

2016 – The land is sold to Fletcher. By September members of the community begin occupying the contested land in protest. In December Fletcher is given consent for a housing development.

2017 – Campaigners take the plight to the United Nations, which recognised consultation and consent from Māori had not been adequately sought.

2018 – In November the Environment Court declines to overturn Fletcher's consent. Te Kawerau ā Maki chair and former chair of Makaurau Marae Te Warena Taua, who had previously challenged the development, tells the Herald he supports the 480-house development, which would return eight of the 32ha to iwi, and provide them with several dozen homes.

2019 – In February amid ongoing protests and occupation by SOUL Fletcher tells the Herald they would sell the Ihumātao section for the right offer. In March campaigners deliver a petition to Parliament demanding the Government intervene, and in April they take their case to Auckland Council.

July 23 – An eviction notice is served to those occupying the land, and over the ensuing days thousands of people flock to Ihumātao in support. A debate erupts over who is mana whenua.

July 26 – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces a halt to the development while the parties work to find a solution.

July 27 – Government Ministers Peeni Henare and Willie Jackson visit Ihumātao, and say they will work with all mana whenua – including those with SOUL and Makaurau Marae – on finding a solution.