Those protesting against a housing development at Ihumātao have provided a blunt response to National Party leader Simon Bridges: "We are already home."

Bridges stoked the ire of many after criticising Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for "getting involved" in the situation and insisting she tell the "protesters to go home".

Save Our Unique Landscape co-founder and mana whenua Qiane Matata-Sipu told the Herald they were "already home".

"Well, we are home, there is nowhere really that I can or would go.


"I also don't really have much time for him anyway, given the National government created the Special Housing Area (SHA) law that got us into this in the first place."

The land at Ihumātao, confiscated from Māori in 1863 and sold to the Wallace family in 1869, was designated a SHA in 2014 under the National-led government, allowing for fast-track development.

Fletcher subsequently bought the 32-hectare-site, and has plans to put 480 homes on it, setting aside a portion of homes and a quarter of the land for mana whenua.

A group of mana whenua have opposed the development ever since, and the protest at the site erupted Tuesday three weeks ago after those occupying the land were issued eviction notices.

Amid growing protest numbers, on July 26 Ardern announced a halt to the construction while all parties worked together to find a solution.

Matata-Sipu said they were not going anywhere until that happened.

"This is our whenua, we live in this papakainga and so 21 days, 21 months, we will be here as long as it takes."

Twitter reacted strongly to Bridges' "go home" comments, with comparisons to US President Donald Trump, who was widely condemned - including by Ardern - for telling elected congresswomen to go back where they came from, and questions around Bridges' Māori heritage and advocacy.


Bridges told the Herald it was "ridiculous" to make those comparisons, and his comments were aimed at the Prime Minister.

"She has escalated this and it's now to show leadership. She needs to tell protesters to go home, and then we can allow the developers to get on and build some homes."

Asked about Bridges' "go home" comments, Ardern said: "It's up to the leader of the Opposition to take his own position and it's not for me to determine what that should be."

Bridges said the current approach was empowering the protesters, which could lead to more protests.