The Kiingitanga flag at Ihumatao has come down and Kiingitanga representatives say a positive resolution is expected ahead of Waitangi Day.
Kiingi Tuheitia arrived at Ihumatao this morning after a fence was removed by Fletcher Building yesterday sparking talks that a settlement was close.
About 60 people from both the Kiingitanga and protest group Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) were at the ceremony for the return of the flag.
The King had visited the site – which neighbours historically significant Otuataua stonefields and has been occupied by mana whenua protesting the construction of 480 homes for years – last August, and raised his manawa as a symbol of peace and unity.
The protests had gained momentum last July after some of the occupying mana whenua were served eviction notices on the land, which was confiscated from Maori in 1863.
The Kiingitanga gathered the different groups involved together in September, and it was made clear mana whenua wanted the land returned to them.
Details to be confirmed
Details of a resolution are yet to be confirmed but in a statement this morning, representatives of Kiingi Tuheitia said the King’s work was largely concluded with the expectation of a positive resolution ahead of Waitangi Day.
“There’s still some work to do, but Kiingitanga is satisfied that now is the time to retrieve the flag from Ihumatao. In essence, Kiingi Tuheitia’s work is done. He has successfully interceded on behalf of his people to find a pathway to a resolution that is outside of the Treaty process.”
In the release, the Kiingitanga acknowledged the patience and hard work of others, particularly Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“It’s been a challenging process and we will be better for it as a people and a nation.”
The government has said it acknowledges the significance of the Kiingi Tuheitia’s decision today to lower his flag at Ihumatao.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said he recognised the King’s expert leadership in a complex situation and commitment to finding a way through which all parties could be happy.
He said that the government would continue to work with all parties to reach a resolution, and were mindful of Fletcher Building’s position as the legal owner of the land.
He said a satisfactory settlement with them was an important part of a resolution.
A spokesperson for Kiingi Tuheitia, Rukumoana Schaafhausen, said that the resolution to the Ihumatao land dispute would not include funding from Waikato-Tainui.
The above Report and Pictures have been published under a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz
Kiingi Tuheitia at Ihumatao (RNZ Photo by Dan Cook)