Auckland Council is calling for a meeting with all parties involved with the disputed lands at Ihumātao to avoid "another Bastion Point".

The land in the south Auckland suburb of Māngere is owned by Fletcher Building and is slated for development of 480 houses, with the agreement of local iwi.

But a group called SOUL - Save Our Unique Landscape - has been occupying the historic site for several years, saying it should be made a public space.

Some of the protesters - or protectors, as they call themselves - are mana whenua, including SOUL leader Pania Newton. She says the 34ha of land near the sacred Ōtuataua Stonefields Reserve was unjustly confiscated from mana whenua in 1863.

Advertisement

But elders from local mana whenua Te Kawerau ā Maki, Te Ākitai Waiohua, and Tainui have sided with Fletcher in the dispute and asked protesters to leave.

READ MORE
The tragedy of Ihumātao
Fires that shaped Auckland hapū history: Bastion Point, 40 years on
Protesters at Ihumātao served eviction notices
Ihumātao development site protest: Occupiers and police standing ground at Auckland site

On Tuesday police evicted the protesters, leading to hundreds more people descending on the site. The vast majority have acted peacefully but six people have been arrested for what police called "reckless and dangerous" behaviour.

There are now scores of police at the scene, leading to fears the situation could become a "second Bastion Point".

Police said they had remained there over Wednesday night "to allow Fletcher Building contractors to go about their lawful business and to prevent any breaches of the peace".

"Police respect the public's right to protest and we want to acknowledge the peaceful behaviour of the vast majority of protesters on site," they said in a statement.

Footage from this morning posted online appears to show police shoving protesters standing in their way.

Councillor Cathy Casey raised an extraordinary item in the council's Governing Body meeting today calling for Mayor Phil Goff to hold a meeting between all parties - including iwi claiming mana whenua status, the council, the Māngere-Otahuhu local board, the Crown and anyone else affected - to "explore all partnering opportunities that will bring an end to this lengthy dispute".

Advertisement

She hoped the move would avert "a situation that could escalate as Bastion Point did".

The item was passed unanimously and will be confirmed at the next meeting in August.

But Councillor Penny Hulse cautioned councillors to respect the Treaty settlement process the local iwi, Te Kawerau ā Maki, had gone through.

She also warned the council against taking a "colonial and vaguely patronising approach to sort of step in and calm the waters" when the various groups involved had been dealing with the issue for decades.

Councillor Mike Lee called the situation "a weeping sore which has been allowed to fester for way too long" between the community and Fletcher.

"It has caused major problems within the local marae to the stage now and with the law to the stage that people are being arrested, so strongly do they feel about this."

The council could not demand that Māori elders and spokespeople come to a meeting, she said.

On Wednesday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government would not intervene in the dispute, but it was "falling on the side of local iwi and their position".

"They are not the ones leading the protest here, so if we come in over the top it really would be undermining the local iwi in this case."