The Minister of Finance is staying tight-lipped about a meeting with Fletcher Building over the stalemate at Ihumātao.

Grant Robertson on Friday met with representatives from the company, which owns the contested South Auckland site, on Friday at the Beehive.

That followed an announcement by Māori King Tūheitia last week that mana whenua had reached a unified decision that they wanted the land returned.

Robertson has declined to give further details about the meeting - other than saying the developer asked for it - and on Tuesday still wouldn't say what had been said.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson won't say what was said at the meeting with Fletcher Building. Photo / Michael Craig
Finance Minister Grant Robertson won't say what was said at the meeting with Fletcher Building. Photo / Michael Craig

"I think, with respect to Fletchers, I'm going to leave that inside the meeting. They were just talking about some of the options they see going forward from here," he said.

"There are going to be ongoing discussions with varying parties involved here. I see the Government's as one where we just play a constructive role in helping find a resolution.

Asked whether Fletcher had asked for anything, Robertson said: "No. They're just looking for a way forward."

Fletcher has declined repeated requests for comment - but earlier said it was disappointed to not have been part of talks so far and would be seeking urgent meetings with all parties involved.

While it's not clear what the solutions are on the table, there are a number of potential ways the situation could be resolved:

• The Government or iwi Waikato-Tainui could buy the land from the developer to return it to mana whenua.

• The Government could swap some land it owns with the developer, rather than outright buying it.

• Waikato-Tainui could swap land with Fletcher to have Ihumātao returned.


King Tūheitia last week said Kīngitanga had conveyed the views of mana whenua to the Government and urged it to negotiate with the land's owner, Fletcher, for the "return of Ihumātao to its rightful owners".

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters last week said there was an "extraordinarily high benchmark" for the Government to get involved in the situation - and has raised concerns that a Government buyback could reopen settled Treaty claims.

That worry has also been raised by the National Party, which has called for the Government to "butt out" of the situation.

But Robertson has said the Government has "absolutely no intention of reopening full and final settlements".

King Tūheitia has been acting as an intermediary in the stalemate between Ihumātao's iwi authority – which supports a planned development by Fletcher Building on the site – and those opposing it, led by Pania Newton and the Save Our Unique Landscape group - who occupied the land.

The land was sold to the developer in 2016 after being designated a Special Housing Area. It has been the subject of controversy since.


Fletcher hoped to develop 480 homes on the site in Māngere and earthworks had begun in July when machinery was blocked by protesters.

They were issued with an eviction notice on July 23 and Ardern announced a halt to the development three days later, as tensions escalated.

Ihumātao is thought to be one of the earliest places settled in Auckland and protesters says the site is of historical and cultural significance, not a Treaty matter.