The lone policeman sitting in his car waved us a cheery goodbye as we left the occupied land at Ihumātao last Saturday.
• Council calls for urgent meeting over 'grave' situation at Ihumātao housing development site
• Premium - Jane Trask: Let's get behind those protecting Ihumātao for future generations
• Mike Hosking: Government should forget about Ihumātao
• Fletcher seeks urgent talks on Ihumatao stalemate
My friend, her second visit, said this was in stark contrast to the rally she went to at Ihumātao in August. The place was crawling with police.
They blocked off the road leading to the campsite to all vehicles, making the masses walk quite a distance.
This didn't deter the thousands who turned up. Talking to protest leader Pania Newton, she said 11,000 people visited Ihumātao that weekend.
They were there to demonstrate and show their support to prevent the eviction of those occupying the land.
Pania is a member of SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) and through her efforts has brought to our Nation's attention the case for Ihumātoa.
I wasn't able to attend that weekend but wanted to make the effort to visit at some stage. I'm pleased I did.
My friend and I had Pania's undivided attention. There was just the three of us. Pania, a qualified lawyer, gave us a tour of the area and explained its rich history.
Ihumātao is in the rural area in Mangere, bounded by the Manukau Harbour. It covers 200 hectares of lava fields of which 100 are on the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve.
It is believed to be one of the first places where Māori in Tamaki Makaurau settled, farmed and thrived. Pania's marae is just down the road where she grew up surrounded by family.
We were joined by an elderly gentleman from Glendowie.
He had just dropped his son off at the airport and called in with two bags of groceries. I asked him what had prompted him to do that.
He said over the years he had watched Māori TV and this is when he realised he didn't understand most of the important issues Māori were concerned about and raising.
He has taken the time to familiarise himself now and continues to learn. He also wants his grandchildren to know more about the history of their own country.
I was interviewed on TV last week and was asked if I thought the Prime Minister should have visited Ihumātao by now.
I believe she should have. Of course, she has her advisers and they have obviously said: "Don't go near the place."
I can recall Theo telling me "always show up with a willingness to listen".
You may not agree, or even understand, but people respect the fact that you showed up.
The Prime Minister should have trusted her own instincts. I always thought this was one of her strengths.
Pania told me she has spent the past four Christmases at Ihumātao.
Now looking forward to becoming a mother early in the new year, she hopes this will be her last as an occupier.