Mana whenua's 'collective decision' on Ihumātao questioned by Winston Peters

After weeks of stand-off at the Ihumātao site in Auckland brought on by a planned development by Fletcher Construction on land held sacred by Māori, mana whenua have reached a decision that they want the Government to negotiate with Fletcher Building to return the land.

However, this conclusion has been questioned by Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters who told Morning Report all political parties in Parliament and iwi had accepted the Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

"That has consequences," he said.

Mr Peters, who is a lawyer and practiced Māori land law in the '70s, said it was fundamental to listen to those who had "kept the land warm down through the centuries and even today".

"Who has been keeping the land warm? Those are the people that we're going to listen to."

Mr Peters said he read the Kiingitanga announcement very carefully.

"If it means they have come to a collective decision when the responsibility lies with someone else, then have you collectively come to a decision?,” he asked.

Mr Peters said before the government made a move, it would have to look at whether it was setting a precedent for all Treaty settlements.

"We've got to go into these things eyes wide open in the national interest of all New Zealanders."

Mr Peters said the land at Ihumātao was the result of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process and said mana whenua had come under enormous pressure from people claiming to speak for them.

"What's in the best interests of the people there be it their social needs which include housing, Papakāinga housing or Fletcher housing was always going to be critical unless you don't think housing is a critical area of need of Māoridom today,” the Acting PM said.

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