Meet the young Auckland woman taking the fight to protect her ancestral land to the UN

A young Auckland woman has taken the fight to save her tūrangawaewae, place where she belongs, all the way to the UN.

Pania Newton has been to the UN three times to fight for her ancestral land in Ihumatao, South Auckland. Source: Seven Sharp

Pania Newton has been nominated for the Rangatahi Leaders of Apopo Catergory at this year's Matariki Awards for her efforts to preserve Ihumātao in South Auckland.

She was born and raised there, and is fighting to save the 33 kilometres of Māori ancestral land that borders the Manukau Harbour.

"When I stand here I feel strong in who I am, and where I come from and I have a deep sense of place and belonging," Pania told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

She's been to the UN three times over the past two years to fight a new housing development that has been proposed in Ihumātao.

The trips have been successful for the young campaigner, with the UN taking her side on the issue.

"Having the UN recognise our campaign and making that concluding statement that the Government need to evaluate the designation of the housing area here was a relief," Pania said.

Despite this support, her fight to protect and preserve isn't over yet.

"This land was promised to be included on the Ōtuataua Stonefields historic reserve, to be a public open space.

"But to change the law overnight and to designate it without considering the whānau or the community here is in many ways ongoing colonisation because we are not being considered."

Pania says she will stay and fight for her tūrangawaewae until it's protected and preserved.