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Ihumātao protest movement has 'based its campaign on misinformation' – iwi advocate

Tensions at disputed site Ihumātao have "lifted the cauldron on Māori dissatisfaction", an iwi advocate says.

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Pita Turei called growing tensions at the disputed site a result of failing to teach Māori history. Source: Breakfast

It comes after tensions simmered when police numbers escalated on Monday night over concerns cordons were being breached.

Pita Turei said: "The first thing we need to understand is that a million-and-a-half people in New Zealand live on stolen land", adding that we "can't change the rule book without a wider discussion".

"Now what's happened at Ihumātao – and bless them all for their stance – they have lifted the cauldron on Māori dissatisfaction," he told TVNZ1's Breakfast.

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Hundreds gathered outside the Beehive in support of the Auckland land protest. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Turei called the ongoing protests at the South Auckland site "the price we pay" for failing to teach Māori history.

"People find out their history, and five minutes later, they're angry and they want some land back.

"There's a wrong that's being done. When people only find out about what wrong, they get excited that a wrong's been done but we have to move beyond grief mode, and we have to move to a place where we can house our people – that is the most important thing for iwi at the moment."

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Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers talked to 1 NEWS about the alleged incident. Source: 1 NEWS

He said protestors at Ihumātao are on the land because they are "not being heard, wherever they're from".

"There's a whole lot of people from Kaikohe there – they're not being heard in Kaikohe but they're hurting. There’s people from Kahungunu there. They're hurting there, but here, they can be heard."

Mr Turei said Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) advocate Pania Newton has "created a platform where Māori grievance, frustration, anger can be heard", but the presence of the protestors is "confusing the message".

"Everybody's got their own issues and their own problems, and here's a place where they can be heard."

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Police numbers escalated overnight amid tensions at the site where hundreds are protesting the building of houses on sacred Māori land. Source: 1 NEWS

He added that SOUL has "based its campaign on misinformation".

"The misinformation that they're saving the stonefields – the council already owns them. Misinformation that this land is so tapu no house can be on it – they’re camping on it. They’ve had three rock concerts on it. It’s not making sense.

"Also, it's the wheat fields. They’re trying to say it’s a burial ground – we didn’t grow food to sell to the people in Auckland on burial grounds. We've never been that kind of people.”

He said the people of the village "need to get together to decide what they want in their village without 20,000 Facebook friends staring over their shoulder ... a table where those few people from that haukainga can sit down and discuss".

Mr Turei said the anger directed at building contractor Fletcher is misplaced.

"Fletcher are people who build houses who bought some land and want to build those houses. They consulted with the iwi who were available to consult at the time after a court case in the Environment Court, and then people were surprised.

"People out in Ihumātao were surprised that something was happening, and they obviously didn't notice the court case and all the other actions that were taking place. They suddenly found out, they felt they hadn’t been consulted and so they got angry and occupied it."

He said he would like the decision-making at Ihumātao to be left to the village involved.

"Can everyone go home, please, and let that village sort out what that village wants to do?

"Just because one person at the table has 20,000 Facebook friends and says, 'I'm not negotiable' – that's not a pathway to a solution."