Yesterday I went out to Ihumatao with my lil’ sister to support the group out at Ihumatao. It is certainly a very difficult land issue as there are many perspectives to this block of land and it has a long history that I’ve learnt about over the years.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve taken my classes out there to listen to Pania Newton, their leader and to have an understanding of what happened historically.
This year I joined up with another class for our students to learn about the history and the importance of the land from a kaitiaki (Maori guardianship) perspective in anticipation that this would be happening soon as the corporate group would be getting pressure from their own senior managers to act on the development monies that had already been assigned to developing the 480 houses that are planned for the land.
Why this is important is that there are spiritual connections and aspects to the land and important stories of the voyaging and settlement of this particular are that I never learned about as a Geography major back at Auckland University and even with a Masters degree in Geography it didn’t at all mention or even grapple with the notions of spiritual connections with whenua (land) for a lot of indigenous cultures.
So much so that I’ve since learned that when indigenous people lose their lands through shady deals, corruption or it is forcibly taken (stolen through legal means by a colonizing government or power) etc. there are spiritual repercussions upon the indigenous peoples of the lands. You just have to read through reports of places all over the world where indigenous peoples have been restricted to reservations or spaces in which they don’t have spiritual connections to to see that it is quite damaging, dispossessing and cuts at the heart of indigenous peoples.
There are now academic writings about indigenous peoples who have been dispossessed from their lands and begin to suffer trauma, much like what’s happening at Ihumatao where there are young Maori people fighting for their lands to remain as they are but the trauma of having a police raid, made to look like angry protestors and corporate developers saying that it is legally there corporate lands, although historically it was stolen from mana whenua (original peoples of that particular land) and given or sold to white settlers at the time.
That’s why I’m encouraged and encouraging people who know of the importance of what these young people and old are fighting for to unite and meet up at Ihumatao. My only proviso is not to get arrested as my beloved in still in Samoa and I have a noho Marae on the weekend but as a Uni student this is what we did to support those who were guardians of important things to us.
If you are interested follow the Ihumatao social media links, subscribe to their email to keep up to date as it is now day 3 in the occupation or protest and it may get ugly before any formal resolution can be made.
Just like with Maunga Kea in Hawaii which is now into it’s 7th day of protesting. The fight is international over valuing the proper of use of land for indigenous peoples is very real…