Open Letter to PM: Follow the advice of UN over Ihumātao

Press Release – Save Our Unique Landscape

The Open Letter below to the Prime Minister from the mana whenua-led community group Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) was published today. SOUL has been campaigning for over two years against the plan by Fletcher Residential Limited to build 480 high-cost …Open Letter to Prime Minister: Follow the advice of UN over Ihumātao

The Open Letter below to the Prime Minister from the mana whenua-led community group Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) was published today.

SOUL has been campaigning for over two years against the plan by Fletcher Residential Limited to build 480 high-cost houses on confiscated Māori Land at Ihumātao near Auckland Airport.

A report just released by the United Nations recognises major problems associated with this planned development and calls for immediate government action.

As well as breaching the Treaty of Waitangi, the original confiscation and the SHA Act are serious violations of two key United Nations human rights instruments – the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The CERD Committee in Geneva in their report, delivered in early September recommended that, concerning Ihumātao, the NZ Government:

“obtain the free and informed consent of Māori before approving any project affecting the use and development of their traditional land and resources“.

As a result of Government failure to address this requirement, the Committee also strongly recommend that the Crown review the SHA 62 designation which has been placed over the confiscated land:

“in consultation with all affected Māori.… to evaluate its conformity with the Treaty of Waitangi, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant international standards.”

SOUL, in its Open Letter, calls on Prime Minister Bill English and the New Zealand Government to action the UN recommendations immediately.
The Open Letter to Prime Minister Bill English is reproduced below.

11th September 2017

To the Right Honourable Bill English

Tēnā Koe Prime Minister

At Ihumātao, near Auckland Airport, precious heritage land is under a serious threat of commercial development. A report just released by the United Nations recognises major problems associated with this planned development and calls for immediate government action.

The mana whenua led campaign SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) is fighting plans by the transnational corporation Fletcher Residential Limited to build 480 high-cost houses on confiscated Māori land, in a development known as Special Housing Area 62 (SHA 62).

Prime Minister, your government’s Special Housing Area Act (SHA Act) created SHA 62 through a ‘fast track’ process, depriving mana whenua and other interested parties of the right to pursue legal and other objections to the Fletcher proposal.

As well as breaching the Treaty of Waitangi, the original confiscation and the SHA Act are serious violations of two key United Nations human rights instruments – the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). As a full signatory to both, the New Zealand Government has a duty to comply with these agreements which also impact on our international reputation.

In 2017 SOUL presented its objections to SHA 62 to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York (in May) and to the CERD Committee in Geneva (in August). In their report, the UN recommended that, concerning Ihumātao, the NZ Government:

“obtain the free and informed consent of Māori before approving any project affecting the use and development of their traditional land and resources.”

As a result of your Government’s failure to address this requirement, the Committee also strongly recommend that the Crown review the SHA 62 designation:

in consultation with all affected Māori.… to evaluate its conformity with the Treaty of Waitangi, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant international standards.”

History shows that mana whenua of Ihumātao have been protesting against the unfair confiscation and takeover of their lands since 1863. Our SOUL campaign is the latest manifestation of this continuing struggle for justice.

SOUL calls on the New Zealand Government to action the UN recommendations immediately. Please provide the leadership, vision and resources needed for a just, sustainable future for the land at Ihumātao, so all New Zealanders and visitors to the country can enjoy our irreplaceable heritage.

Prime Minister, the upcoming election provides the opportunity to show political leadership on this matter. Isn’t it time you delivered?

Heoi anō

Pania Newton
SOUL Spokesperson

ends

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