It was a beautiful day on the stonefields. Late in the afternoon the protesters were still crowded into the intersection where the police had moved them on Tuesday. Many of them were sitting in rows in front of a thin blue-and-hi-vis-yellow line, many more were standing around. Protest leaders took turns with speeches, everyone joined in the singing.
It's been said many times that mana whenua support the Fletcher development, but nothing about this situation is simple.
"A lot of us are not mana whenua," declared one speaker, "but we know what's right. We know what's right!"
Paints and brushes littered the ground, the detritus of all the work painting placards. Children ran about, climbing the stone walls, drawn to the campfire, foraging in the cow field. Most in the crowd were young, many of the women wore a moko on their chin.
The road up to Ihumātao, where the protesters had been based, runs due west. The sun sank lower, behind the police line, behind the rows of police waiting behind the line. There were so many police. It was a statement: Let's keep it calm.
Pania Newton, lead spokeswoman for Soul (Save Our Unique Landscape), had the same message, in her own way. "It's most important to stay well," she told everyone. "Stay positive, stay hopeful." She was sad and didn't hide it.
Not, you sensed, because of defeat. Much more that she knew the next long stage was now beginning. People kept arriving. At least 200 there at its height, around 5.30pm, but many more had already come and gone, and more streamed in after dark.
At the kai tent, they had their schedule worked out: dinner at 6.30pm, breakfast at 6.30am, lunch at 12.30pm. A big pot of chicken stew, great piles of chopped vegetables. "We've got vegan dishes, too," said one of the cooks, peeling garlic cloves and adding them whole to the pot. "Otherwise they'd just have to eat potatoes."
The sun was very low, glowing in the pōhutukawa and wintery poplars. The cold crept up. Protesters in wool, most of the police still in their shirt sleeves.
Halfway across the paddock, where protesters had earlier burst the line and made a dash back to their old headquarters, another row of police kept watch. A few protesters sat in the grass, warmed by a fire in a half-drum brazier. Bob Marley sang, "Is this love that I'm feeling", and the protesters all joined in. Someone made a speech about how they were teaching the mokopuna how to succeed with peaceful protest.
The police looked cold. How long had they been there?
"Let's see," said one, "is it still July?"
More protesters arrived and a new police line marched in over the field. Jackets and gloves - the night shift. First thing they did was pull out an extinguisher and put out the fire.
"That is so culturally disrespectful!" shouted someone. It was a good joke, and a telling one. What's the kaupapa here? Not many protest issues are quite so complicated.
Why hasn't the Government bought the land and brokered a deal between the different Māori groups? They all want housing for the poor. They all want the cultural and geological sites preserved. They all see economic opportunity, through tourism and possibly horticulture, in the land.
The Prime Minister says the iwi are on the side of Fletchers and it would be quite wrong to "go in over their heads".
But the iwi, Te Kawerau ā Maki, didn't want to protest forever. Their leader Te Warena Taua told me late last year they need some progress and Fletchers offered them the chance to get it. Could that be done another way? Fletchers told the Herald in February that they would sell.
The courts have consistently been against the protesters, but that's the legal consequence of the history. The land was confiscated and never returned, but sold instead into private ownership. That meant it could not legally become part of a Treaty settlement.
Could the council buy the land? Their line is the same as the Government's.
Is this good enough? Who's going to step forward to resolve this?
It was dark now, floodlights on behind the police line, the air filled with cooking smoke. I asked the garlic chef, what's going to happen?
"You remember what happened at Bastion Point?" she said. Others were talking about it too. People kept arriving. The tents were up. It was going to be very cold. They weren't going anywhere.