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Shane Jones labels protestors at Ihumātao 'freedom campers'


Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has labelled protestors at Ihumātao "freedom campers" and says scattered "stones on an old cow farm" don't have greater significance than building houses for whānau.

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The Infrastructure Minister says scattered “stones on an old cow farm” don't have greater significance than building houses for whānau. Source: Q+A

Members of the Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) group are continuing their occupation of the land at Māngere in South Auckland, trying to stop development company Fletcher Residential building several hundred houses on the site.

The Māori King visited the site at the weekend and asked that both sides meet this week to find a way to move forward after weeks of mana whenua peacefully protesting to stop the housing development.

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Around 800 of his entourage travelled with him today. Source: 1 NEWS

In an interview for tonight's Q+A programme, Mr Jones is less than complimentary towards the protestors.

"Well at the moment the Māori King and his advisers and the freedom campers from the SOUL movement and the local hapū, they're all having a big hui at Hopuhopu. So I'll leave it with them," Mr Jones said. 

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As the conflict heads towards a third week, one law expert has suggested a potential solution.

"I would have thought that they're more than capable of sorting it out, rather dipping into the Crown balance sheet," he said. 

"We should be building houses to offer accommodation for the whānau, rather than saying that a scattered number of stones on an old cow farm have greater significance for Māori than building houses and keeping the tamariki warm and in a safe environment," Mr Jones said.

* Q+A is on TVNZ1 on Mondays at 9.30pm, and the episode is then available on TVNZ OnDemand and as a podcast in all the usual places.