A group of protesters has since early yesterday morning blocked a Māngere public road, protesting against Fletcher Building plans for 480 new residences near the airport.

Qiane Matata-Sipu, a co-founder of protest group Save Our Unique Landscape, said Ihumātao Quarry Rd had been blocked since around 7am yesterday and the group would stay "as long as we have to."

Mareikura Heta, 6, with a conch shell on Ihumatao Quarry Rd. Photo/Doug Sherring
Mareikura Heta, 6, with a conch shell on Ihumatao Quarry Rd. Photo/Doug Sherring

Steve Evans, Fletcher residential and development chief executive, said today the business had not confirmed when works would start although it had consent to close the road "to allow for work to begin on the land that we own.

"We are aware of protesters illegally blocking the public access at Ihumātao Quarry Rd and we understand that people have been threatened by protesters and told to leave the area, which is disappointing. We are working with authorities on this," he said.

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But Matata-Sipu said in response her group had not threatened anyone: "This is a peaceful protest. We have been having a positive presence on our whenua. We've been gardening, salsa dancing and Zumba dancing. We moved the gear here on Sunday night. We're taking it one day at a time.

"Police yesterday, they were asking us to move the blocks. They issued a warning. But the Māori police liaison visited yesterday and it was great. They will come back again today," she said.

Soul has 31 orange road cones as the first line of defence against vehicles accessing the road, one of the entrances to the Ōtuataua Stonefields Reserve.

Between each road cone is a plant in a bucket or pot. A greeting tent has been erected for health and safety, with visitors asked to sign in and out.

Patrick Tawha at Ihumatao Quarry Rd today. Photo/Doug Sherring
Patrick Tawha at Ihumatao Quarry Rd today. Photo/Doug Sherring

Matata-Sipu said a registered nurse was on-site along with first aid equipment.

Three hens, two dogs, eight hay bales, wood structures including a children's playhouse, two caravans, eight raised wooden box gardens, a 40-gallon drum on wheels, paint cans, sleeping bags, a line of tents, weed eater, quad bike with trailer, plastic chairs, portable toilet, protest signs, United Tribes flags, Tino rangatiratanga flags and a number of wood pallets were on-site this morning.

More than 20 people were at the site which runs at least 50m back from the intersection of the quarry road and Oruarangi Rd.

Protesters erecting signs at the site today. Photo/Doug Sherring
Protesters erecting signs at the site today. Photo/Doug Sherring

Matata-Sipu said kai donations included venison from Morewa. cooked last night for dinner. Another Soul supporter said 180 packets of biscuits arrived this morning. A BBQ, half-drum stacked with firewood and a number of vehicles were behind the blockade.

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People were being allowed through to the stonefields and vehicle assistance was being provided if needed, Matata-Sipu said.

Twenty solar showers and a number of bikes were arriving, another Soul supporter said this morning.

Mareikura Heta, 6 with her siblings this morning. Photo/Doug Sherring
Mareikura Heta, 6 with her siblings this morning. Photo/Doug Sherring

Evans said Fletcher got consent to shut the road yesterday "to allow for utility works to be installed, road upgrade works to be carried out, and also for heavy equipment to be moved onto the land ahead of earthworks. Once development starts, large vehicles and equipment will move from one side of the road to the other, and so a road closure is important to ensure the health and safety of the public and those working onsite.

Once the road was closed, the public would not be able to access the 100ha stonefields public reserve via Ihumātao Quarry Rd.

A protest sign at the site today. Photo/Doug Sherring
A protest sign at the site today. Photo/Doug Sherring

"However, there are at least two other entry points to the Stonefields including through the Northern Gates about 700 metres further along Oruarangi Rd and closer to the village. We can assure the public that Fletcher Building will have clear notices on the land to show access points to the Stonefields," Evans said.

Matata-Sipu said: "The whenua was confiscated in 1863 and went to a Pakeha farmer who sold it to Fletcher. We don't want this development to happen. There's been so much desecration of Ihumātao which is the birthplace of Tāmaki Makaurau."

But Evans said Fletcher was working in partnership with Te Kawerau a Maki, who represent the mana whenua.

As part of a partnership agreement with iwi, we will return over a quarter of the 32ha development area to iwi. This area will be planted with native trees, and will create a new open area between the new housing development and the existing reserve – there will be no development on the Stonefields," Evans stressed.

The land that Fletcher owned was not available to Te Kawerau a Maki during its Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations.

"Returning this land is important to us, and to Te Kawerau a Maki – it will be the first time in over 150 years that their name will be back on the land. We understand that this is the first agreement of its sort between an iwi and a corporate for the return of land," Evans said.

Iwi would get 40 affordable homes and more would be announced shortly, he said.

Soul did not speak on behalf of the iwi, Evans said.