Ihumātao protestors descend on PM Jacinda Ardern's electorate office

Posted by nzherald.co.nz on Wednesday, 21 August 2019

By RNZ

Hundreds of people are taking part in a hīkoi to the Prime Minister's electorate office over Ihumātao, asking her to visit the site.

The participants will deliver a petition, signed by more than 25,000 people, urging Jacinda Ardern to travel to Ihumātao to experience the whenua - the land - herself.

The petition says without a personal visit they don't think the prime minister has a true sense of why the land matters so much and what's at stake if it's lost.

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The hīkoi participants began the march at 8am, with the group singing as it left Ihumātao.

An RNZ reporter said the mood is "upbeat with a lot of chanting and the rain has cleared".

Just after 9.30am, the hīkoi made its first stop to drop off tamariki at Māngere Bridge Primary.

The marchers then stopped in Māngere Bridge for a rest and food. So far the hīkoi has made it about 8km from Ihumātao.

"Energy's still high, we're still peaceful, we're still positive and this is a passive resistance," Pania Newton told supporters when they stopped for a rest.

LIVESTREAM COURTESY OF RNZ

People have been occupying the whenua for 30 days, since an eviction notice was served.

On the Facebook event, more than 300 people have said they're going to take part in the hīkoi.

Ihumātao protesters on the hīkoi to the Prime Minister's electorate office. Photo / Khalia Strong
Ihumātao protesters on the hīkoi to the Prime Minister's electorate office. Photo / Khalia Strong
Ihumātao protesters on the hīkoi to the Prime Minister's electorate office. Photo / Khalia Strong
Ihumātao protesters on the hīkoi to the Prime Minister's electorate office. Photo / Khalia Strong

Buses will take people part of the way.

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It's unlikely the prime minister will be there, as today is a sitting day in Parliament.

On Monday Ardern said her visiting was not the resolution, but didn't rule out visiting Ihumātao in the future.

"It is not about me," she said.

"Me visiting doesn't get us closer to a resolution, that ultimately needs to come from mana whenua," Ardern said.

"I haven't ruled out visiting in the future but right now I see it as a distraction to finding a resolution."

More to come

- RNZ