The evolving media coverage of the protest at Ihumātao tells an interesting story.
As those backing the protest group Soul (Save Our Unique Landscape) prepare for a third week of occupation, negotiations involving interested parties continue.
King Tūheitia's visit to the disputed site at the weekend was a significant achievement for Soul. Until then, the group's objections to the planned Fletcher housing development had not been publicly acknowledged by the Kingitanga — despite its location on the northern edge of the Waikato-Tainui rohe.
Pania Newton, who is the main spokeswoman for Soul, summed up the importance of Saturday's visit.
"Without a doubt, we are open and willing to sit down with the Kīngitanga and Waikato-Tainui to find a resolution," she told TVNZ.
Her words denote the group's four-year fight to be included in discussions over the disputed land as mana whenua and local iwi and community members.
It has been a tough slog for Newton and other members of Soul to simply get a seat at this table.
Even with the support of their local marae, and a petition of 18,000 signatures — which included many local Ihumātao residents — the group's objections to the housing development have been ignored.
It appears the dusting-off of camping tents was required to bring the ear of central government and iwi authorities to attention.
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But though Soul appears to be making progress with some naysayers, others continue to exhibit dismissive attitudes which distract from a productive resolution-making process.
Just last week, New Zealand First MP Shane Jones took aim at the legitimacy of the protest.
"I've got zero tolerance when I saw some of the personalities out there dressed up in yoga pants," he said on Radio Waatea.
"They don't speak for mana whenua and they don't, in my view, represent the long-term interests of Māori traditional leadership."
He reportedly also said Newton was auditioning for a career in politics.
Ridiculing Soul and singling out Newton has been a common tactic employed by those who disagree with the protest.
For Newton, the attacks continue to be increasingly personal. Her own links to Ihumātao have been questioned by the head of Te Kawerau ā Maki iwi authority, Te Warena Taua. Te Kawerau ā Maki is the iwi authority that struck a deal with Fletcher securing houses in the planned development for whānau members.
In a recent interview on Marae, Taua in one segment repeatedly fired iterations of "you're not from there [Ihumātao]" at Newton. Newton, who was flanked by two senior members of the local Ihumātao marae, continued to try to discuss plans for the land.
The ugly nature of criticism being levelled at her and Soul is also revealed in another interview Taua did earlier this year.
"What you've got is a Soul group, a Pākehā professional protest group with a few muttering Māoris, a handful from our village who don't even go to our marae for tangis and who just don't mind sitting alongside someone by the name of Pania Newton who was born in Australia and came to live in our village at the age of 14, went to school, went to uni, got a degree, no knowledge about the land," he told Radio Waatea.
I am not too sure how bringing up his purported knowledge of Newton's past and law degree assists in solving the protest at Ōruarangi Rd.
An answer Newton gave me last year explaining her choice to refrain from reciting her heritage in the Environment Court illustrates why she does not bother with personal attacks.
"I shouldn't have to," Newton said. "I know where I'm from, and my whānau know where I'm from. I should not have to announce it ... "
For Taua, his disparaging remarks demonstrate a disregard for those voicing an alternative view on an issue all members of the Ihumātao community deserve a say in.
Standing at the protest site today, it is clear this has not happened.
Prior to the tent-dusting, it had been four years of unsuccessful attempts by Soul to engage parties with vested interests in Ihumātao. Among those were Fletcher and Te Kawerau ā Maki — the iwi authority claiming to represent local mana whenua.
During its entire campaign, Soul leaders have maintained they, and other whānau members, were never properly consulted on the housing development.
With the support of the local marae behind them, teamed with Taua's petty comments about its members, I believe Soul appears more genuine and aware of locals' wishes.
Sharon Hawke, daughter of Bastion Point occupation leader Joe Hawke, has also commented about the group's protest and place at Ihumātao on Marae.
"The toto [blood] is in those girls," she said of Newton and her cousin, fellow Soul co-leader, Qiane Matata-Sipu.
"I'm not going to say they don't have a mandate. They're women that are fighting for a cause that many of my first cousins are involved in."
She went on to address negative antics which can occur in protest movements.
"There must be a commitment to the kaupapa, not a commitment to damage the other side.
"There's a dignity in protest, and it can be lost in a bad protest."
As negotiations for a possible resolution continue, those who sit at the table must assess whether the current confrontation could have been avoided if proper consultation with all Ihumātao locals, including Soul members, occurred.
The answer will likely emerge further down the track.
Perhaps, by then, it will be a learning point for future democratic processes — both for iwi authorities and the Crown.